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309 Works of Jean de La Fontaine

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A wealthy Ploughman, drawing near his end, Called in his sons apart from every friend, And said, “When of your sire bereft, The heritage your father left Guard well, nor sell a single field. A treasure in it is concealed. The place, precisely, I don’t know, But industry will serve to show. The harvest past, […]

The Spectacles

Story type: Poetry

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I LATELY vowed to leave the nuns alone, So oft their freaks have in my page been shown. The subject may at length fatigue the mind; My Muse the veil howe’er is still inclined, Conspicuously to hold to publick view, And, ‘mong the sisters, scene and scene pursue. Is this too much?–the nicest tricks they […]

The Falcon

Story type: Poetry

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I RECOLLECT, that lately much I blamed, The sort of lover, avaricious named; And if in opposites we reason see, The liberal in paradise should be. The rule is just and, with the warmest zeal, To prove the fact I to the CHURCH appeal. IN Florence once there dwelled a gentle youth, Who loved a […]

The Picture

Story type: Poetry

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SOLICITED I’ve been to give a tale, In which (though true, decorum must prevail), The subject from a picture shall arise, That by a curtain’s kept from vulgar eyes. My brain must furnish various features new: What’s delicate and smart produce to view; By this expressed, and not by t’other said: And all so clear, […]

DAME FORTUNE often loves a laugh to raise, And, playing off her tricks and roguish ways, Instead of giving us what we desire, Mere quid pro quo permits us to acquire. I’ve found her gambols such from first to last, And judge the future by experience past. Fair Cloris and myself felt mutual flame; And, […]

The Contract

Story type: Poetry

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THE husband’s dire mishap, and silly maid, In ev’ry age, have proved the fable’s aid; The fertile subject never will be dry: ‘Tis inexhaustible, you may rely. No man’s exempt from evils such as these:– Who thinks himself secure, but little sees. One laughs at sly intrigues who, ere ’tis long, May, in his turn, […]

The Clyster

Story type: Poetry

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IF truth give pleasure, surely we should try; To found our tales on what we can rely; Th’ experiment repeatedly I’ve made, And seen how much realities persuade: They draw attention: confidence awake; Fictitious names however we should take, And then the rest detail without disguise: ‘Tis thus I mean to manage my supplies. IT […]

FAMED Paris ne’er within its walls had got, Such magick charms as were Aminta’s lot, Youth, beauty, temper, fortune, she possessed, And all that should a husband render blessed, The mother still retained her ‘neath the wing; Her father’s riches well might lovers bring; Whate’er his daughter wished, he would provide, Amusements, jewels, dress, and […]

NO master sage, nor orator I know, Who can success, like gentle Cupid show; His ways and arguments are pleasing smiles, Engaging looks, soft tears, and winning wiles. Wars in his empire will at times arise, And, in the field, his standard meet the eyes; Now stealing secretly, with skilful lure. He penetrates to hearts […]

I’M now disposed to give a pretty tale; Love laughs at what I’ve sworn and will prevail; Men, gods, and all, his mighty influence know, And full obedience to the urchin show. In future when I celebrate his flame, Expressions not so warm will be my aim; I would not willingly abuses plant, But rather […]

The Pack-Saddle

Story type: Poetry

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A FAMOUS painter, jealous of his wife; Whose charms he valued more than fame or life, When going on a journey used his art, To paint an ASS upon a certain part, (Umbilical, ’tis said) and like a seal: Impressive token, nothing thence to steal. A BROTHER brush, enamoured of the dame; Now took advantage, […]

WHEN William went from home (a trader styled): Six months his better half he left with child, A simple, comely, modest, youthful dame, Whose name was Alice; from Champaign she came. Her neighbour Andrew visits now would pay; With what intention, needless ’tis to say: A master who but rarely spread his net, But, first […]

A DEMON, blacker in his skin than heart, So great a charm was prompted to impart; To one in love, that he the lady gained, And full possession in the end obtained: The bargain was, the lover should enjoy The belle he wished, and who had proved so coy. Said Satan, soon I’ll make her […]

The Bucking-Tub

Story type: Poetry

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IF once in love, you’ll soon invention find And not to cunning tricks and freaks be blind; The youngest ‘prentice, when he feels the dart, Grows wondrous shrewd, and studies wily art. This passion never, we perceive, remains In want from paucity of scheming brains. The god of hearts so well exerts his force, That […]

The Devil In Hell

Story type: Poetry

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HE surely must be wrong who loving fears; And does not flee when beauty first appears. Ye FAIR, with charms divine, I know your fame; No more I’ll burn my fingers in the flame. From you a soft sensation seems to rise, And, to the heart, advances through the eyes; What there it causes I’ve […]

A CERTAIN pious rector (John his name), But little preached, except when vintage came; And then no preparation he required On this he triumphed and was much admired. Another point he handled very well, Though oft’ner he’d thereon have liked to dwell, And this the children of the present day, So fully know, there’s naught […]

The Psalter

Story type: Poetry

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ONCE more permit me, nuns, and this the last; I can’t resist, whatever may have passed, But must relate, what often I’ve been told; Your tales of convent pranks are seldom cold; They have a grace that no where else we find, And, somehow, better seem to please designed. Another then we’ll have, which three […]

IN life oft ills from self-imprudence spring; As proof, Candaules’ story we will bring; In folly’s scenes the king was truly great: His vassal, Gyges, had from him a bait, The like in gallantry was rarely known, And want of prudence never more was shown. MY friend, said he, you frequently have seen The beauteous […]

BY master Francis clearly ’tis expressed: The folks of Papimania are blessed; True sleep for them alone it seems was made With US the copy only has been laid; And by Saint John, if Heav’n my life will spare, I’ll see this place where sleeping ‘s free from care. E’en better still I find, for […]


Story type: Poetry

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IN Eastern climes, by means considered new; The Mount’s old-man, with terrors would pursue; His large domains howe’er were not the cause, Nor heaps of gold, that gave him such applause, But manners strange his subjects to persuade; In ev’ry wish, to serve him they were made. Among his people boldest hearts he chose, And […]

THOSE who in fables deal, bestow at ease Both names and titles, freely as they please. It costs them scarcely any thing, we find. And each is nymph or shepherdess designed; Some e’en are goddesses, that move below, From whom celestial bliss of course must flow. THIS Horace followed, with superior art:– If, to the […]

The Truckers

Story type: Poetry

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THE change of food enjoyment is to man; In this, t’include the woman is my plan. I cannot guess why Rome will not allow Exchange in wedlock, and its leave avow; Not ev’ry time such wishes might arise, But, once in life at least, ’twere not unwise; Perhaps one day we may the boon obtain; […]

The Sick Abbess

Story type: Poetry

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EXAMPLE often proves of sov’reign use; At other times it cherishes abuse; ‘Tis not my purpose, howsoe’er, to tell Which of the two I fancy to excel. Some will conceive the Abbess acted right, While others think her conduct very light Be that as ’twill, her actions right or wrong, I’ll freely give a license […]


Story type: Poetry

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TO serve the shop as ‘prentice was the lot; Of one who had the name of Nicaise got; A lad quite ignorant beyond his trade, And what arithmetick might lend him aid; A perfect novice in the wily art, That in amours is used to win the heart. Good tradesmen formerly were late to learn […]

DIVERTING in extreme there is a play, Which oft resumes its fascinating sway; Delights the sex, or ugly, fair, or sour; By night or day:–’tis sweet at any hour. The frolick, ev’ry where is known to fame; Conjecture if you can, and tells its name. THIS play’s chief charm to husbands is unknown; ‘Tis with […]

DAN CUPID, though the god of soft amour, In ev’ry age works miracles a store; Can Catos change to male coquets at ease; And fools make oracles whene’er he please; Turn wolves to sheep, and ev’ry thing so well, That naught remains the former shape to tell: Remember, Hercules, with wond’rous pow’r, And Polyphemus, who […]

The Rhemese

Story type: Poetry

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NO city I to Rheims would e’er prefer: Of France the pride and honour I aver; The Holy Ampoule * and delicious wine, Which ev’ry one regards as most divine, We’ll set apart, and other objects take: The beauties round a paradise might make! I mean not tow’rs nor churches, gates, nor streets; But charming […]

The Mandrake

Story type: Poetry

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FLORENTINE we now design to show;– A greater blockhead ne’er appeared below; It seems a prudent woman he had wed, With beauty that might grace a monarch’s bed; Young, brisk, good-humoured, with engaging mien; None in the town, or round, the like was seen: Her praises every voice inclined to sing, And judged her worthy […]

WHEN Cupid with his dart, would hearts assail, The rampart most secure is not the VEIL; A husband better will the FAIR protect, Than walls or lattices, I much suspect. Those parents, who in nunneries have got Their daughters (whether willingly or not), Most clearly in a glaring error prove, To fancy God will round […]

The Hermit

Story type: Poetry

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WHEN Venus and Hypocrisy combine, Oft pranks are played that show a deep design; Men are but men, and friars full as weak: I’m not by Envy moved these truths to speak. Have you a sister, daughter, pretty wife? Beware the monks as you would guard your life; If in their snares a simple belle […]

HANS CARVEL took, when weak and late in life; A girl, with youth and beauteous charms to wife; And with her, num’rous troubles, cares and fears; For, scarcely one without the rest appears. Bab (such her name, and daughter of a knight) Was airy, buxom: formed for am’rous fight. Hans, holding jeers and cuckoldom in […]

A COUNTRYMAN, one day, his calf had lost, And, seeking it, a neighbouring forest crossed; The tallest tree that in the district grew, He climbed to get a more extensive view. Just then a lady with her lover came; The place was pleasing, both to spark and dame; Their mutual wishes, looks and eyes expressed, […]

The Cradle

Story type: Poetry

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NEAR Rome, of yore, close to the Florence road, Was seen a humble innkeeper’s abode; Small sums were charged; few guests the night would stay; And these could seldom much afford to pay. A pleasing active partner had the host Her age not much ‘bove thirty at the most; Two children she her loving husband […]

TO charms and philters, secret spells and prayers, How many round attribute all their cares! In these howe’er I never can believe, And laugh at follies that so much deceive. Yet with the beauteous FAIR, ’tis very true, These WORDS, as SACRED VIRTUES, oft they view; The spell and philter wonders work in love Hearts […]

TO you, my friends, allow me to detail, The feats of monks in Catalonia’s vale, Where oft the holy fathers pow’rs displayed, And showed such charity to wife and maid, That o’er their minds sweet fascination reigned, And made them think, they Paradise had gained. SUCH characters oft preciously advise, And youthful easy female minds […]

Richard Minutolo

Story type: Poetry

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IN ev’ry age, at Naples, we are told, Intrigue and gallantry reign uncontrolled; With beauteous objects in abundance blessed. No country round so many has possessed; Such fascinating charms the FAIR disclose, That irresistibly soft passion flows. ‘MONG these a belle, enchanting to behold, Was loved by one, of birth and store of gold; Minutolo […]

PRONE, on my couch I calmly slept Against my wont. A little child Awoke me as he gently crept And beat my door. A tempest wild Was raging-dark and cold the night. “Have pity on my naked plight,” He begged, “and ope thy door.”–“Thy name?” I asked admitting him.–“The same “Anon I’ll tell, but first […]

IF these gay tales give pleasure to the FAIR, The honour’s great conferred, I’m well aware; Yet, why suppose the sex my pages shun? Enough, if they condemn where follies run; Laugh in their sleeve at tricks they disapprove, And, false or true, a muscle never move. A playful jest can scarcely give offence: Who […]

Sister Jane

Story type: Poetry

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WHEN Sister Jane, who had produced a child, In prayer and penance all her hours beguiled Her sister-nuns around the lattice pressed; On which the abbess thus her flock addressed: Live like our sister Jane, and bid adieu To worldly cares:–have better things in view. YES, they replied, we sage like her shall be, When […]

PAINTER in Paphos and Cythera famed Depict, I pray, the absent Iris’ face. Thou hast not seen the lovely nymph I’ve named; The better for thy peace.–Then will I trace For thy instruction her transcendent grace. Begin with lily white and blushing rose, Take then the Loves and Graces… But what good Words, idle words? […]

Alice Sick

Story type: Poetry

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SICK, Alice grown, and fearing dire event, Some friend advised a servant should be sent Her confessor to bring and ease her mind;– Yes, she replied, to see him I’m inclined; Let father Andrew instantly be sought:– By him salvation usually I’m taught. A MESSENGER was told, without delay, To take, with rapid steps, the […]

The Kiss Returned

Story type: Poetry

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AS WILLIAM walking with his wife was seen, A man of rank admired her lovely mien. Who gave you such a charming fair? he cried, May I presume to kiss your beauteous bride? With all my heart, replied the humble swain, You’re welcome, sir:–I beg you’ll not refrain; She’s at your service: take the boon, […]

The Two Friends

Story type: Poetry

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AXIOCHUS, a handsome youth of old, And Alcibiades, (both gay and bold,) So well agreed, they kept a beauteous belle, With whom by turns they equally would dwell. IT happened, one of them so nicely played, The fav’rite lass produced a little maid, Which both extolled, and each his own believed, Though doubtless one or […]

TWO lawyers to their cause so well adhered, A country justice quite confused appeared, By them the facts were rendered so obscure With which the truth remained he was not sure. At length, completely tired, two straws he sought Of diff’rent lengths, and to the parties brought. These in his hand he held:–the plaintiff drew […]

The Glutton

Story type: Poetry

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A STURGEON, once, a glutton famed was led To have for supper–all, except the head. With wond’rous glee he feasted on the fish; And quickly swallowed down the royal dish. O’ercharged, howe’er, his stomach soon gave way; And doctors were required without delay. THE danger imminent, his friends desired He’d settle ev’ry thing affairs required. […]

[NOTE: See Chapters 111 & 112 from The Satyricon by Petronius Arbiter. DW] IF there’s a tale more common than the rest, The one I mean to give is such confessed. Why choose it then? you ask; at whose desire? Hast not enough already tuned thy lyre? What favour can thy MATRON now expect, Since […]

YOUR name with ev’ry pleasure here I place, The last effusions of my muse to grace. O charming Phillis! may the same extend Through time’s dark night: our praise together blend; To this we surely may pretend to aim Your acting and my rhymes attention claim. Long, long in mem’ry’s page your fame shall live; […]

The Little Bell

Story type: Poetry

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HOW weak is man! how changeable his mind! His promises are naught, too oft we find; I vowed (I hope in tolerable verse,) Again no idle story to rehearse. And whence this promise?–Not two days ago; I’m quite confounded; better I should know: A rhymer hear then, who himself can boast, Quite steady for–a minute […]

The Eel Pie

Story type: Poetry

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HOWEVER exquisite we BEAUTY find, It satiates sense, and palls upon the mind: Brown bread as well as white must be for me; My motto ever is–VARIETY. THAT brisk brunette, with languid, sleepy eye, Delights my fancy; Can you tell me why? The reason ‘s plain enough:–she ‘s something new. The other mistress, long within […]

The Magnificent

Story type: Poetry

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SOME wit, handsome form and gen’rous mind; A triple engine prove in love we find; By these the strongest fortresses are gained E’en rocks ‘gainst such can never be sustained. If you’ve some talents, with a pleasing face, Your purse-strings open free, and you’ve the place. At times, no doubt, without these things, success Attends […]

The Little Dog

Story type: Poetry

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THE key, which opes the chest of hoarded gold. Unlocks the heart that favours would withhold. To this the god of love has oft recourse, When arrows fail to reach the secret source, And I’ll maintain he’s right, for, ‘mong mankind, Nice presents ev’ry where we pleasing find; Kings, princes, potentates, receive the same, And […]

WHAT various ways in which a thing is told Some truth abuse, while others fiction hold; In stories we invention may admit; But diff’rent ’tis with what historick writ; Posterity demands that truth should then Inspire relation, and direct the pen. ALACIEL’S story’s of another kind, And I’ve a little altered it, you’ll find; Faults […]

The Magick Cup

Story type: Poetry

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THE worst of ills, with jealousy compared, Are trifling torments ev’ry where declared. IMAGINE, to yourself a silly fool, To dark suspicion grown an easy tool; No soft repose he finds, by night or day; But rings his ear, he’s wretched ev’ry way! Continually he dreams his forehead sprouts; The truth of reveries he never […]

A GASCON (being heard one day to swear, That he’d possess’d a certain lovely fair,) Was played a wily trick, and nicely served; ‘Twas clear, from truth he shamefully had swerved: But those who scandal propagate below, Are prophets thought, and ev’ry action know; While good, if spoken, scarcely is believed, And must be viewed, […]

OFT have I seen in wedlock with surprise, That most forgot from which true bliss would rise When marriage for a daughter is designed, The parents solely riches seem to mind; All other boons are left to heav’n above, And sweet SIXTEEN must SIXTY learn to love! Yet still in other things they nicer seem, […]

WHO knows the world will never feel surprise, When men are duped by artful women’s eyes; Though death his weapon freely will unfold; Love’s pranks, we find, are ever ruled by gold. To vain coquettes I doubtless here allude; But spite of arts with which they’re oft endued; I hope to show (our honour to […]

A CERTAIN husband who, from jealous fear, With one eye slept while t’other watched his dear, Deprived his wife of every social joy, (Friends oft the jealous character annoy,) And made a fine collection in a book, Of tricks with which the sex their wishes hook. Strange fool! as if their wiles, to speak the […]

AS o’er their wine one day, three gossips sat, Discoursing various pranks in pleasant chat, Each had a loving friend, and two of these Most clearly managed matters at their ease. SAID one, a princely husband I have got. A better in the world there’s surely not; With him I can adjust as humour fits, […]

BOCCACE alone is not my only source; T’another shop I now shall have recourse; Though, certainly, this famed Italian wit Has many stories for my purpose fit. But since of diff’rent dishes we should taste; Upon an ancient work my hands I’ve placed; Where full a hundred narratives are told, And various characters we may […]

ONCE on a time, as hist’ry’s page relates, A lord, possessed of many large estates, Was angry with a poor and humble clod, Who tilled his grounds and feared his very nod. Th’ offence (as often happens) was but small, But on him, vowed the peer, his rage should fall– Said he, a halter, rascal, […]

The Muleteer

Story type: Poetry

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THE Lombard princes oft pervade my mind; The present tale Boccace relates you’ll find; Agiluf was the noble monarch’s name; Teudelingua he married, beauteous dame, The last king’s widow, who had left no heir, And whose dominions proved our prince’s share. No Beauty round compare could with the queen; And ev’ry blessing on the throne […]

SOME time ago from Rome, in smart array, A younger brother homeward bent his way, Not much improved, as frequently the case With those who travel to that famous place. Upon the road oft finding, where he stayed, Delightful wines, and handsome belle or maid, With careless ease he loitered up and down.– One day […]

WHEN Francis (named the first) o’er Frenchmen reign’d, In Italy young Arthur laurels gained, And oft such daring valour showed in fight, With ev’ry honour he was made a knight; The monarch placed the spur upon his heel, That all around his proper worth might feel. Then household deities at home he sought, Where–not at […]

The Cobbler

Story type: Poetry

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WE’RE told, that once a cobbler, BLASE by name; A wife had got, whose charms so high in fame; But as it happened, that their cash was spent, The honest couple to a neighbour went, A corn-factor by trade, not overwise To whom they stated facts without disguise; And begged, with falt’ring voice denoting care, […]


Story type: Poetry

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IN Lombardy’s fair land, in days of yore, Once dwelt a prince, of youthful charms, a store; Each FAIR, with anxious look, his favours sought, And ev’ry heart within his net was caught. Quite proud of beauteous form and smart address, In which the world was led to acquiesce, He cried one day, while ALL […]

Thou lust of gain,–foul fiend, whose evil eyesRegard as nought the blessings of the skies,Must I for ever battle thee in vain?How long demandest thou to gainThe meaning of my lessons plain?Will constant getting never cloy?Will man ne’er slacken to enjoy?Haste, friend; thou hast not long to live:Let me the precious word repeat,And listen to […]

Between two citizensA controversy grew.The one was poor, but much he knew:The other, rich, with little sense,Claim’d that, in point of excellence,The merely wise should bow the kneeTo all such money’d men as he.The merely fools, he should have said;For why should wealth hold up its head,When merit from its side hath fled?‘My friend,’ quoth […]

Said Jupiter, one day,As on a cloud he lay,‘Observing all our crimes,Come, let us change the times,By leasing out anewA world whose wicked crewHave wearied out our grace,And cursed us to our face.Hie hellward, Mercury;A Fury bring to me,The direst of the three.Race nursed too tenderly,This day your doom shall be!’E’en while he spoke their […]

Four creatures, wont to prowl,–Sly Grab-and-Snatch, the cat,Grave Evil-bode, the owl,Thief Nibble-stitch, the rat,And Madam Weasel, prim and fine,–Inhabited a rotten pine.A man their home discover’d there,And set, one night, a cunning snare.The cat, a noted early-riser,Went forth, at break of day,To hunt her usual prey.Not much the wiserFor morning’s feeble ray,The noose did suddenly […]

With mighty rush and roar,Adown a mountain steepA torrent tumbled,–swelling o’erIts rugged banks,–and boreVast ruin in its sweep.The traveller were surely rashTo brave its whirling, foaming dash,But one, by robbers sorely press’d,Its terrors haply put to test.They were but threats of foam and sound,The loudest where the least profound.With courage from his safe success,His foes […]

How do I hate the tide of vulgar thought!Profane, unjust, with childish folly fraught;It breaks and bends the rays of truth divine,And by its own conceptions measures mine.Famed Epicurus’ master [A] triedThe power of this unstable tide.His country said the sage was mad–The simpletons! But why?No prophet ever honour hadBeneath his native sky.Democritus, in truth, […]

For Mademoiselle De Sillery.[A] I had the Phrygian quit,Charm’d with Italian wit;[B]But a divinityWould on Parnassus seeA fable more from me.Such challenge to refuse,Without a good excuse,Is not the way to useDivinity or muse.Especially to oneOf those who truly are,By force of being fair,Made queens of human will.A thing should not be doneIn all respects […]

The lion’s consort died:Crowds, gather’d at his side,Must needs console the prince,And thus their loyalty evinceBy compliments of course;Which make affliction worse.Officially he citesHis realm to funeral rites,At such a time and place;His marshals of the maceWould order the affair.Judge you if all came there.Meantime, the prince gave wayTo sorrow night and day.With cries of […]

The Horoscope

Story type: Poetry

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On death we mortals often run,Just by the roads we take to shun. A father’s only heir, a son,Was over-loved, and doted onSo greatly, that astrologyWas question’d what his fate might be.The man of stars this caution gave–That, until twenty years of age,No lion, even in a cage,The boy should see,–his life to save.The sire, […]

A trading Greek, for want of law,Protection bought of a pashaw;And like a nobleman he paid,Much rather than a man of trade–Protection being, Turkish-wise,A costly sort of merchandise.So costly was it, in this case,The Greek complain’d, with tongue and face.Three other Turks, of lower rank,Would guard his substance as their own,And all draw less upon […]

Death never taketh by surpriseThe well-prepared, to wit, the wise–They knowing of themselves the timeTo meditate the final change of clime.That time, alas! embraces allWhich into hours and minutes we divide;There is no part, however small,That from this tribute one can hide.The very moment, oft, which bidsThe heirs of empire see the lightIs that which […]

A cobbler sang from morn till night;‘Twas sweet and marvellous to hear,His trills and quavers told the earOf more contentment and delight,Enjoy’d by that laborious wightThan e’er enjoy’d the sages seven,Or any mortals short of heaven.His neighbour, on the other hand,With gold in plenty at command,But little sang, and slumber’d less–A financier of great success.If […]

To M. De Barillon.[4] Can diplomatic dignityTo simple fables condescend?Can I your famed benignityInvoke, my muse an ear to lend?If once she dares a high intent,Will you esteem her impudent?Your cares are weightier, indeed,Than listening to the sage debatesOf rabbit or of weasel states:So, as it pleases, burn or read;But save us from the woful […]

Impertinent, we tease and weary HeavenWith prayers which would insult mere mortals even.‘Twould seem that not a god in all the skiesFrom our affairs must ever turn his eyes,And that the smallest of our raceCould hardly eat, or wash his face,Without, like Greece and Troy for ten years’ space,Embroiling all Olympus in the case. A […]

There’s nothing like a secret weighs;Too heavy ’tis for women tender;And, for this matter, in my days,I’ve seen some men of female gender. To prove his wife, a husband cried,(The night he knew the truth would hide,)‘O Heavens! What’s this? O dear–I beg–I’m torn–O! O! I’ve laid an egg!’‘An egg?’ ‘Why, yes, it’s gospel-true.Look here–see–feel […]

A certain mountain bear, unlick’d and rude,By fate confined within a lonely wood,A new Bellerophon,[A] whose life,Knew neither comrade, friend, nor wife,–Became insane; for reason, as we term it,Dwells never long with any hermit.‘Tis good to mix in good society,Obeying rules of due propriety;And better yet to be alone;But both are ills when overdone.No animal […]

The Curate And The Corpse[A] A dead man going slowly, sadly,To occupy his last abode,A curate by him, rather gladly,Did holy service on the road.Within a coach the dead was borne,A robe around him duly worn,Of which I wot he was not proud–That ghostly garment call’d a shroud.In summer’s blaze and winter’s blast,That robe is […]

Who joins not with his restless raceTo give Dame Fortune eager chase?O, had I but some lofty perch,From which to view the panting crowdOf care-worn dreamers, poor and proud,As on they hurry in the search,From realm to realm, o’er land and water,Of Fate’s fantastic, fickle daughter!Ah! slaves sincere of flying phantom!Just as their goddess they […]

The Two Cocks

Story type: Poetry

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Two cocks in peace were living, whenA war was kindled by a hen.O love, thou bane of Troy! ’twas thineThe blood of men and gods to shedEnough to turn the Xanthus redAs old Port wine!And long the battle doubtful stood:(I mean the battle of the cocks;)They gave each other fearful shocks:The fame spread o’er the […]

A trader on the sea to riches grew;Freight after freight the winds in favour blew;Fate steer’d him clear; gulf, rock, nor shoalOf all his bales exacted toll.Of other men the powers of chance and stormTheir dues collected in substantial form;While smiling Fortune, in her kindest sport,Took care to waft his vessels to their port.His partners, […]

‘Tis oft from chance opinion takes its rise,And into reputation multiplies.This prologue finds pat applicationsIn 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 counteractThis reckless, rushing cataract?‘Twill have its course for good or bad,As it, indeed, has always had. A dame […]

John Rabbit’s palace under groundWas once by Goody Weasel found.She, sly of heart, resolved to seizeThe place, and did so at her ease.She took possession while its lordWas absent on the dewy sward,Intent upon his usual sport,A courtier at Aurora’s court.When he had browsed his fill of cloverAnd cut his pranks all nicely over,Home Johnny […]

The Maid

Story type: Poetry

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A certain maid, as proud as fair,A husband thought to findExactly to her mind–Well-form’d and young, genteel in air,Not cold nor jealous;–mark this well.Whoe’er would wed this dainty belleMust have, besides rank, wealth, and wit,And all good qualities to fit–A man ’twere difficult to get.Kind Fate, however, took great careTo grant, if possible, her prayer.There […]

The Wishes

Story type: Poetry

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Within the Great Mogul’s domains there areFamiliar sprites of much domestic use:They sweep the house, and take a tidy careOf 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 goodWork’d noiselessly and well;To master, mistress, garden, boreA […]

An Animal In The Moon[26] While one philosopher[27] affirmsThat by our senses we’re deceived,Another[28] swears, in plainest terms,The senses are to be believed.The twain are right. PhilosophyCorrectly calls us dupes whene’erUpon mere senses we rely.But when we wisely rectifyThe raw report of eye or ear,By distance, medium, circumstance,In real knowledge we advance.These things hath nature […]

His lion majesty would know, one day,What bestial tribes were subject to his sway.He therefore gave his vassals all,By deputies a call,Despatching everywhereA written circular,Which bore his seal, and did importHis majesty would hold his courtA month most splendidly;–A feast would open his levee,Which done, Sir Jocko’s sleightWould give the court delight.By such sublime magnificenceThe […]

Upon a sandy, uphill road,Which naked in the sunshine glow’d,Six lusty horses drew a coach.Dames, monks, and invalids, its load,On foot, outside, at leisure trode.The team, all weary, stopp’d and blow’d:Whereon there did a fly approach,And, with a vastly business air.Cheer’d up the horses with his buzz,–Now pricked them here, now prick’d them there,As neatly […]

The Charlatan

Story type: Poetry

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The world has never lack’d its charlatans,More than themselves have lack’d their plans.One sees them on the stage at tricksWhich mock the claims of sullen Styx.What talents in the streets they post!One of them used to boastSuch mastership of eloquenceThat he could make the greatest dunceAnother Tully CiceroIn all the arts that lawyers know.‘Ay, sirs, […]

A pot of milk upon her cushion’d crown,Good Peggy hasten’d 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 cashAt single dash,Which to a hundred eggs […]


Story type: Poetry

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The goddess Discord, having made, on high,Among the gods a general grapple,And thence a lawsuit, for an apple,Was turn’d out, bag and baggage, from the sky.The animal call’d man, with open arms,Received the goddess of such naughty charms,–Herself and Whether-or-no, her brother,With Thine-and-mine, her stingy mother.In this, the lower universe,Our hemisphere she chose to curse:For […]

The Young Widow

Story type: Poetry

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A husband’s death brings always sighs;The widow sobs, sheds tears–then dries.Of Time the sadness borrows wings;And Time returning pleasure brings.Between the widow of a yearAnd of a day, the differenceIs so immense,That very few who see herWould think the laughing dameAnd weeping one the same.The one puts on repulsive action,The other shows a strong attraction.The […]

The apologue is from the immortal gods;Or, if the gift of man it is,Its author merits apotheosis.Whoever magic genius laudsWill do what in him liesTo raise this art’s inventor to the skies.It hath the potence of a charm,On dulness lays a conquering arm,Subjects the mind to its control,And works its will upon the soul.O lady, […]

The Ill-Married

Story type: Poetry

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If worth, were not a thing more rareThan beauty in this planet fair,There would be then less need of careAbout the contracts Hymen closes.But beauty often is the baitTo love that only ends in hate;And many hence repent too lateOf wedding thorns from wooing roses.[A]My tale makes one of these poor fellows,Who sought relief from […]

Beside a placid, crystal flood,A stag admired the branching woodThat high upon his forehead stood,But gave his Maker little thanksFor what he call’d his spindle shanks.‘What limbs are these for such a head!–So mean and slim!’ with grief he said.‘My glorious heads o’ertopsThe branches of the copse;My legs are my disgrace.’As thus he talk’d, a […]

This world is full of shadow-chasers,Most easily deceived.Should I enumerate these racers,I should not be believed.I send them all to Aesop’s dog,Which, crossing water on a log,Espied the meat he bore, below;To seize its image, let it go;Plunged in; to reach the shore was glad,With neither what he hoped, nor what he’d had.

Sick in his den, we understand,The king of beasts sent out commandThat of his vassals every sortShould send some deputies to court–With promise well to treatEach deputy and suite;On faith of lion, duly written,None should be scratch’d, much less be bitten.The royal will was executed,And some from every tribe deputed;The foxes, only, would not come.One […]

From wrongs of wicked men we drawExcuses for our own:–Such is the universal law.Would you have mercy shown,Let yours be clearly known. A fowler’s mirror served to snareThe little tenants of the air.A lark there saw her pretty face,And was approaching to the place.A hawk, that sailed on highLike vapour in the sky,Came down, as […]

Old Boreas and the sun, one dayEspied a traveller on his way,Whose dress did happily provideAgainst whatever might betide.The time was autumn, when, indeed,All prudent travellers take heed.The rains that then the sunshine dash,And Iris with her splendid sash,Warn one who does not like to soakTo wear abroad a good thick cloak.Our man was therefore […]

A youthful mouse, not up to trap,Had almost met a sad mishap.The story hear him thus relate,With great importance, to his mother:–‘I pass’d the mountain bounds of this estate,And off was trotting on another,Like some young rat with nought to doBut see things wonderful and new,When two strange creatures came in view.The one was mild, […]

The Doctors

Story type: Poetry

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The selfsame patient put to testTwo doctors, Fear-the-worst and Hope-the-best.The latter hoped; the former did maintainThe man would take all medicine in vain.By different cures the patient was beset,But erelong cancell’d nature’s debt,While nursedAs was prescribed by Fear-the-worst.But over the disease both triumph’d still.Said one, ‘I well foresaw his death.’‘Yes,’ said the other, ‘but my […]

A prelate’s mule of noble birth was proud,And talk’d, incessantly and loud,Of nothing but his dam, the mare,Whose mighty deeds by him recounted were,–This had she done, and had been present there,–By which her son made out his claimTo notice on the scroll of Fame.Too proud, when young, to bear a doctor’s pill;When old, he […]

A little fish will grow,If life be spared, a great;But yet to let him go,And for his growing wait,May not be very wise,As ’tis not sure your baitWill catch him when of size.Upon a river bank, a fisher tookA tiny troutling from his hook.Said he, ”Twill serve to count, at least,As the beginning of my […]

A cunning old fox, of plundering habits,Great crauncher of fowls, great catcher of rabbits,Whom none of his sort had caught in a nap,Was finally caught in somebody’s trap.By luck he escaped, not wholly and hale,For the price of his luck was the loss of his tail.Escaped in this way, to save his disgrace,He thought to […]

Within a savage forest grotA satyr and his chipsWere taking down their porridge hot;Their cups were at their lips. You might have seen in mossy den,Himself, his wife, and brood;They had not tailor-clothes, like men,But appetites as good. In came a traveller, benighted,All hungry, cold, and wet,Who heard himself to eat invitedWith nothing like regret. […]

A mountain was in travail pang;The country with her clamour rang.Out ran the people all, to see,Supposing that the birth would beA city, or at least a house.It was a mouse! In thinking of this fable,Of story feign’d and false,But meaning veritable,My mind the image callsOf one who writes, “The war I singWhich Titans waged […]

All power is feeble with dissension:For this I quote the Phrygian slave.If aught I add to his invention,It is our manners to engrave,And not from any envious wishes;–I’m not so foolishly ambitious.Phaedrus enriches oft his story,In quest–I doubt it not–of glory:Such thoughts were idle in my breast.An aged man, near going to his rest,His gather’d […]

Beside a well, uncurb’d and deep,A schoolboy laid him down to sleep:(Such rogues can do so anywhere.)If some kind man had seen him there,He would have leap’d as if distracted;But Fortune much more wisely acted;For, passing by, she softly waked the child,Thus whispering in accents mild:‘I save your life, my little dear,And beg you not […]

That man his Maker can deceive,Is monstrous folly to believe.The labyrinthine mazes of the heartAre open to His eyes in every part.Whatever one may do, or think, or feel,From Him no darkness can the thing conceal.A pagan once, of graceless heart and hollow,Whose faith in gods, I’m apprehensive,Was quite as real as expensive.Consulted, at his […]

‘Tis use that constitutes possession.I ask that sort of men, whose passionIt is to get and never spend,Of all their toil what is the end?What they enjoy of all their laboursWhich do not equally their neighbours?Throughout this upper mortal strife,The miser leads a beggar’s life.Old Aesop’s man of hidden treasureMay serve the case to demonstrate.He […]

A stag took refuge from the chaseAmong the oxen of a stable,Who counsel’d him, as saith the fable,To seek at once some safer place.‘My brothers,’ said the fugitive,‘Betray me not, and, as I live,The richest pasture I will show,That e’er was grazed on, high or low;Your kindness you will not regret,For well some day I’ll […]

“Depend upon yourself alone,”Has to a common proverb grown.‘Tis thus confirm’d in Aesop’s way:–The larks to build their nests are seenAmong the wheat-crops young and green;That is to say,What time all things, dame Nature heeding,Betake themselves to love and breeding–The monstrous whales and sharks,Beneath the briny flood,The tigers in the wood,And in the fields, the […]

The horses have not always beenThe humble slaves of men.When, in the far-off past,The fare of gentlemen was mast,And even hats were never felt,Horse, ass, and mule in forests dwelt.Nor saw one then, as in these ages,So many saddles, housings, pillions;Such splendid equipages,With golden-lace postilions;Such harnesses for cattle,To be consumed in battle;As one saw not […]

The great are like the maskers of the stage;Their show deceives the simple of the age.For all that they appear to be they pass,With only those whose type’s the ass.The fox, more wary, looks beneath the skin,And looks on every side, and, when he seesThat all their glory is a semblance thin,He turns, and saves […]

This wolf another brings to mind,Who found dame Fortune more unkind,In that the greedy, pirate sinner,Was balk’d of life as well as dinner.As saith our tale, a villagerDwelt in a by, unguarded place;There, hungry, watch’d our pillagerFor luck and chance to mend his case.For there his thievish eyes had seenAll sorts of game go out […]

A house was built by SocratesThat failed the public taste to please.Some blamed the inside; some, the out; and allAgreed that the apartments were too small.Such rooms for him, the greatest sage of Greece!‘I ask,’ said he, ‘no greater blissThan real friends to fill e’en this.’And reason had good SocratesTo think his house too large […]

A peacock moulted: soon a jay was seenBedeck’d with Argus tail of gold and green,[A]High strutting, with elated crest,As much a peacock as the rest.His trick was recognized and bruited,His person jeer’d at, hiss’d, and hooted.The peacock gentry flock’d together,And pluck’d the fool of every feather.Nay more, when back he sneak’d to join his race,They […]

They to bamboozle are inclined,Saith Merlin, who bamboozled are.The word, though rather unrefined,Has yet an energy we ill can spare;So by its aid I introduce my tale.A well-fed rat, rotund and hale,Not knowing either Fast or Lent,Disporting round a frog-pond went.A frog approach’d, and, with a friendly greeting,Invited him to see her at her home,And […]

A fly and ant, upon a sunny bank,Discuss’d the question of their rank.‘O Jupiter!’ the former said,‘Can love of self so turn the head,That one so mean and crawling,And of so low a calling,To boast equality shall dareWith me, the daughter of the air?In palaces I am a guest,And even at thy glorious feast.Whene’er the […]

A fable flourished with antiquityWhose meaning I could never clearly see.Kind reader, draw the moral if you’re able:I give you here the naked fable.Fame having bruited that a great commander,A son of Jove, a certain Alexander,Resolved to leave nought free on this our ball,Had to his footstool gravely summon’d allMen, quadrupeds, and nullipeds, togetherWith all […]

The Woman Drowned

Story type: Poetry

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I hate that saying, old and savage,“‘Tis nothing but a woman drowning.”That’s much, I say. What grief more keen should have edgeThan loss of her, of all our joys the crowning?Thus much suggests the fable I am borrowing.A woman perish’d in the water,Where, anxiously, and sorrowing,Her husband sought her,To ease the grief he could not […]

A lover of gardens, half cit and half clown,Possess’d a nice garden beside a small town;And with it a field by a live hedge inclosed,Where sorrel and lettuce, at random disposed,A little of jasmine, and much of wild thyme,Grew gaily, and all in their primeTo make up Miss Peggy’s bouquet,The grace of her bright wedding […]

A serpent, neighbour to a smith,(A neighbour bad to meddle with,)Went through his shop, in search of food,But nothing found, ’tis understood,To eat, except a file of steel,Of which he tried to make a meal.The file, without a spark of passion,Address’d him in the following fashion:–‘Poor simpleton! you surely biteWith less of sense than appetite;For […]

A story-writer of our sortHistorifies, in short,Of one that may be reckon’dA Rodilard the Second,–[A]The Alexander of the cats,The Attila,[B] the scourge of rats,Whose fierce and whisker’d headAmong the latter spread,A league around, its dread;Who seem’d, indeed, determinedThe world should be unvermined.The planks with props more false than slim,The tempting heaps of poison’d meal,The traps […]

A lion, mourning, in his age, the waneOf might once dreaded through his wild domain,Was mock’d, at last, upon his throne,By subjects of his own,Strong through his weakness grown.The horse his head saluted with a kick;The wolf snapp’d at his royal hide;The ox, too, gored him in the side;The unhappy lion, sad and sick,Could hardly […]

When Nature angrily turn’d outThose plagues, the spider and the gout,–‘See you,’ said she, ‘those huts so meanly built,These palaces so grand and richly gilt?By mutual agreement fixYour choice of dwellings; or if not,To end th’ affair by lot,Draw out these little sticks.’‘The huts are not for me,’ the spider cried;‘And not for me the […]

The wolves are prone to play the glutton.One, at a certain feast, ’tis said,So stuff’d himself with lamb and mutton,He seem’d but little short of dead.Deep in his throat a bone stuck fast.Well for this wolf, who could not speak,That soon a stork quite near him pass’d.By signs invited, with her beakThe bone she drewWith […]

A certain hollow treeWas tenanted by three.An eagle held a lofty bough,The hollow root a wild wood sow,A female cat between the two.All busy with maternal labours,They lived awhile obliging neighbours.At last the cat’s deceitful tongueBroke up the peace of old and young.Up climbing to the eagle’s nest,She said, with whisker’d lips compress’d,‘Our death, or, […]

Each has his fault, to which he clingsIn spite of shame or fear.This apophthegm a story brings,To make its truth more clear.A sot had lost health, mind, and purse;And, truly, for that matter,Sots mostly lose the latterEre running half their course.When wine, one day, of wit had fill’d the room,His wife inclosed him in a […]

If what old story says of Aesop’s true,The oracle of Greece he was,And more than Areopagus [A] he knew,With all its wisdom in the laws.The following tale gives but a sampleOf what has made his fame so ample.Three daughters shared a father’s purse,Of habits totally diverse.The first, bewitched with drinks delicious;The next, coquettish and capricious;The […]

Perhaps, had I but shown due loyalty,This book would have begun with royalty,Of which, in certain points of view,Boss Belly is the image true,In whose bereavements all the members share:Of whom the latter once so weary were,As all due service to forbear,On what they called his idle plan,Resolved to play the gentleman,And let his lordship […]

A certain commonwealth aquatic,Grown tired of order democratic,By clamouring in the ears of Jove, effectedIts being to a monarch’s power subjected.Jove flung it down, at first, a king pacific.Who nathless fell with such a splash terrific,The marshy folks, a foolish race and timid,Made breathless haste to get from him hid.They dived into the mud beneath […]

To an astrologer who fellPlump to the bottom of a well,‘Poor blockhead!’ cried a passer-by,‘Not see your feet, and read the sky?’ This upshot of a story will sufficeTo give a useful hint to most;For few there are in this our world so wiseAs not to trust in star or ghost,Or cherish secretly the creedThat […]

Once in his bed deep mused the hare,(What else but muse could he do there?)And soon by gloom was much afflicted;–To gloom the creature’s much addicted.‘Alas! these constitutions nervous,’He cried, ‘how wretchedly they serve us!We timid people, by their action,Can’t eat nor sleep with satisfaction;We can’t enjoy a pleasure single,But with some misery it must […]

The peacock[A] to the queen of heavenComplain’d in some such words:–‘Great goddess, you have givenTo me, the laughing-stock of birds,A voice which fills, by taste quite just,All nature with disgust;Whereas that little paltry thing,The nightingale, pours from her throatSo sweet and ravishing a note,She bears alone the honours of the spring.’ In anger Juno heard,And […]

A bachelor caress’d his cat,A darling, fair, and delicate;So deep in love, he thought her mewThe sweetest voice he ever knew.By prayers, and tears, and magic art,The man got Fate to take his part;And, lo! one morning at his sideHis cat, transform’d, became his bride.In wedded state our man was seenThe fool in courtship he […]

A bitch, that felt her time approaching,And had no place for parturition,Went to a female friend, and, broachingHer delicate condition,Got leave herself to shutWithin the other’s hut.At proper time the lender cameHer little premises to claim.The bitch crawl’d meekly to the door,And humbly begg’d a fortnight more.Her little pups, she said, could hardly walk.In short, […]

To show to all your kindness, it behoves:There’s none so small but you his aid may need.I quote two fables for this weighty creed,Which either of them fully proves.From underneath the swardA rat, quite off his guard,Popp’d out between a lion’s paws.The beast of royal bearingShow’d what a lion wasThe creature’s life by sparing–A kindness […]

Wise counsel is not always wise,As this my tale exemplifies.A boy, that frolick’d on the banks of Seine,Fell in, and would have found a watery grave,Had not that hand that planteth ne’er in vainA willow planted there, his life to save.While hanging by its branches as he might,A certain sage preceptor came in sight;To whom […]

A cock scratch’d up, one day,A pearl of purest ray,Which to a jeweller he bore.‘I think it fine,’ he said,‘But yet a crumb of breadTo me were worth a great deal more.’ So did a dunce inheritA manuscript of merit,Which to a publisher he bore.”Tis good,’ said he, ‘I’m told,Yet any coin of goldTo me […]

Were I a pet of fair Calliope,I would devote the gifts conferr’d on meTo dress in verse old Aesop’s lies divine;For verse, and they, and truth, do well combine;But, not a favourite on the Muses’ hill,I dare not arrogate the magic skill,To ornament these charming stories.A bard might brighten up their glories,No doubt. I try,–what […]

Three sorts there are, as Malherbe says,Which one can never overpraise–The gods, the ladies, and the king;And I, for one, endorse the thing.The heart, praise tickles and entices;Of fair one’s smile, it oft the price is.See how the gods sometimes repay it.Simonides–the ancients say it–Once undertook, in poem lyric,To write a wrestler’s panegyric;Which, ere he […]

A man of middle age, whose hairWas bordering on the grey,Began to turn his thoughts and careThe matrimonial way.By virtue of his ready,A store of choices had heOf ladies bent to suit his taste;On which account he made no haste.To court well was no trifling art.Two widows chiefly gain’d his heart;The one yet green, the […]

A poor unfortunate, from day to day,Call’d Death to take him from this world away.‘O Death’ he said, ‘to me how fair thy form!Come quick, and end for me life’s cruel storm.’Death heard, and with a ghastly grin,Knock’d at his door, and enter’d in‘Take out this object from my sight!’The poor man loudly cried.‘Its dreadful […]

A prowling wolf, whose shaggy skin(So strict the watch of dogs had been)Hid little but his bones,Once met a mastiff dog astray.A prouder, fatter, sleeker Tray,No human mortal owns.Sir Wolf in famish’d plight,Would fain have made a rationUpon his fat relation;But then he first must fight;And well the dog seem’d ableTo save from wolfish tableHis […]

By voyages in air,With constant thought and care,Much knowledge had a swallow gain’d,Which she for public use retain’d,The slightest storms she well foreknew,And told the sailors ere they blew.A farmer sowing hemp, once having found,She gather’d all the little birds around,And said, ‘My friends, the freedom let me takeTo prophesy a little, for your sake,Against […]

A city rat, one night,Did, with a civil stoop,A country rat inviteTo end a turtle soup. Upon a Turkey carpetThey found the table spread,And sure I need not harp itHow well the fellows fed. The entertainment wasA truly noble one;But some unlucky causeDisturb’d it when begun. It was a slight rat-tat,That put their joys to […]

A father once, whose sons were two,For each a gift had much ado.At last upon this course he fell:‘My sons,’ said he, ‘within our wellTwo treasures lodge, as I am told;The one a sunken piece of gold,–A bowl it may be, or a pitcher,–The other is a thing far richer.These treasures if you can but […]

Party Strife

Story type: Poetry

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Among the beasts a feud arose.The lion, as the story goes,Once on a time laid downHis sceptre and his crown;And in his stead the beasts elected,As often as it suited them,A sort of king pro tem.,–Some animal they much respected.At first they all concurr’d.The horse, the stag, the unicorn,Were chosen each in turn;And then the […]

A thrush that sang one rustic odeOnce made a garden his abode,And gave the owner such delight,He grew a special favourite.Indeed, his landlord did his bestTo make him safe from every foe;The ground about his lowly nestWas undisturb’d by spade or hoe.And yet his song was still the same;It even grew somewhat more tame.At length […]

A knight of powder-horn and shotOnce fill’d his bag–as I would not,Unless the feelings of my breastBy poverty were sorely press’d–With birds and squirrels for the spitsOf certain gormandizing cits.With merry heart the fellow wentDirect to Mr. Centpercent,Who loved, as well was understood,Whatever game was nice and good.This gentleman, with knowing air,Survey’d the dainty lot […]

The Dog And Cat

Story type: Poetry

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A dog and cat, messmates for life,Were often falling into strife,Which came to scratching, growls, and snaps,And spitting in the face, perhaps.A neighbour dog once chanced to callJust at the outset of their brawl,And, thinking Tray was cross and cruel,To snarl so sharp at Mrs. Mew-well,Growl’d rather roughly in his ear.‘And who are you to […]

A Man amass’d. The thing, we know,Doth often to a frenzy grow.No thought had he but of his minted gold–Stuff void of worth when unemploy’d, I hold.Now, that this treasure might the safer be,Our miser’s dwelling had the seaAs guard on every side from every thief.With pleasure, very small in my belief,But very great in […]

A stag, by favour of a vine,Which grew where suns most genial shine,And form’d a thick and matted bowerWhich might have turn’d a summer shower,Was saved from ruinous assault.The hunters thought their dogs at fault,And call’d them off. In danger now no moreThe stag, a thankless wretch and vile,Began to browse his benefactress o’er.The hunters, […]

Mars once made havoc in the air:Some cause aroused a quarrel thereAmong the birds;–not those that sing,The courtiers of the merry Spring,But naughty hawk and vulture folks,Of hooked beak and talons keen.The carcass of a dog, ’tis said,Had to this civil carnage led.Blood rain’d upon the swarded green,And valiant deeds were done, I ween.Suffice to […]

Two fellows, needing funds, and bold,A bearskin to a furrier sold,Of which the bear was living still,But which they presently would kill–At least they said they would,And vow’d their word was good.The bargain struck upon the skin,Two days at most must bring it in.Forth went the two. More easy found than got,The bear came growling […]

An iron pot proposedTo an earthen pot a journey.The latter was opposed,Expressing the concern heHad felt about the dangerOf going out a ranger.He thought the kitchen hearthThe safest place on earthFor one so very brittle.“For thee, who art a kettle,And hast a tougher skin,There’s nought to keep thee in.”“I’ll be thy body-guard,”Replied the iron pot;“If […]

A Lion, old, and impotent with gout,Would have some cure for age found out.This king, from every species,–Call’d to his aid the leeches.They came, from quacks without degreeTo doctors of the highest fee.Advised, prescribed, talk’d learnedly;But with the restCame not Sir Cunning Fox, M.D.Sir Wolf the royal couch attended,And his suspicions there express’d.Forthwith his majesty, […]

The weasels live, no more than cats,On terms of friendship with the rats;And, were it not that theseThrough doors contrive to squeezeToo narrow for their foes,The animals long-snoutedWould long ago have routed,And from the planet scoutedTheir race, as I suppose. One year it did betide,When they were multiplied,An army took the fieldOf rats, with spear […]

The sorest ill that Heaven hathSent on this lower world in wrath,–The plague (to call it by its name,)One single day of whichWould 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 […]

The Wallet

Story type: Poetry

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From heaven, one day, did Jupiter proclaim,“Let all that live before my throne appear,And there if any one hath aught to blame,In matter, form, or texture of his frame,He may bring forth his grievance without fear.Redress shall instantly be given to each.Come, monkey, now, first let us have your speech.You see these quadrupeds, your brothers;Comparing, […]

A man that labour’d in the woodHad lost his honest livelihood;That is to say,His axe was gone astray.He had no tools to spare;This wholly earn’d his fare.Without a hope beside,He sat him down and cried,“Alas, my axe! where can it be?O Jove! but send it back to me,And it shall strike good blows for thee.”His […]

The Fable AEsop tells is nearly this:–A shepherd from his flock began to miss,And long’d to catch the stealer of, his sheep.Before a cavern, dark and deep,Where wolves retired by day to sleep,Which he suspected as the thieves,He set his trap among the leaves;And, ere he left the place,He thus invoked celestial grace:–“O king of […]

The lion, for his kingdom’s sake,In morals would some lessons take,And therefore call’d, one summer’s day,The monkey, master of the arts,An animal of brilliant parts,To hear what he could say.“Great king,” the monkey thus began,“To reign upon the wisest planRequires a prince to set his zeal,And passion for the public weal,Distinctly and quite high aboveA […]

The eagle and the owl, resolved to ceaseTheir war, embraced in pledge of peace.On faith of king, on faith of owl, they sworeThat they would eat each other’s chicks no more.“But know you mine?” said Wisdom’s bird.“Not I, indeed,” the eagle cried.“The worse for that,” the owl replied:“I fear your oath’s a useless word;I fear […]

In mansion deck’d 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 threaten’d 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,Bestow’d by some partiality,Broke up […]

The wise, sometimes, as lobsters do,To gain their ends back foremost go.It is the rower’s art; and thoseCommanders who mislead their foes,Do often seem to aim their sightJust where they don’t intend to smite.My theme, so low, may yet applyTo one whose fame is very high,Who finds it not the hardest matterA hundred-headed league to […]

“Dear wolf,” complain’d a hungry fox,“A lean chick’s meat, or veteran cock’s,Is all I get by toil or trick:Of such a living I am sick.With far less risk, you’ve better cheer;A house you need not venture near,But I must do it, spite of fear.Pray, make me master of your trade.And let me by that means […]

Clad in a lion’s shaggy hide,An ass spread terror far and wide,And, though himself a coward brute,Put all the world to scampering rout:But, by a piece of evil luck,A portion of an ear outstuck,Which soon reveal’d the errorOf all the panic terror.Old Martin did his office quick.Surprised were all who did not know the trick,To […]

A fox, though young, by no means raw,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 […]

A certain wood-chopper lost or brokeFrom his axe’s eye a bit of oak.The forest must needs be somewhat sparedWhile such a loss was being repair’d.Came the man at last, and humbly pray’dThat the woods would kindly lend to him–A moderate loan–a single limb,Whereof might another helve be made,And his axe should elsewhere drive its trade.O, […]

The lioness had lost her young;A hunter stole it from the vale;The forests and the mountains rungResponsive to her hideous wail.Nor night, nor charms of sweet repose,Could still the loud lament that roseFrom that grim forest queen.No animal, as you might think,With such a noise could sleep a wink.A bear presumed to intervene.“One word, sweet […]

Contemporary with a sparrow tameThere lived a cat; from tenderest age,Of both, the basket and the cageHad household gods the same.The bird’s sharp beak full oft provoked the cat,Who play’d in turn, but with a gentle pat,His wee friend sparing with a merry laugh,Not punishing his faults by half.In short, he scrupled much the harm,Should […]

A pine was by a woodman fell’d,Which ancient, huge, and hollow treeAn owl had for his palace held–A bird the Fates had kept in fee,Interpreter to such as we.Within the caverns of the pine,With other tenants of that mine,Were found full many footless mice,But well provision’d, fat, and nice.The bird had bit off all their […]

A young and inexperienced mouseHad faith to try a veteran cat,–Raminagrobis, death to rat,And scourge of vermin through the house,–Appealing to his clemencyWith reasons sound and fair.“Pray let me live; a mouse like meIt were not much to spare.Am I, in such a family,A burden? Would my largest wishOur wealthy host impoverish?A grain of wheat […]

A monkey and a leopard wereThe rivals at a country fair.Each advertised his own attractions.Said one, “Good sirs, the highest placeMy merit knows; for, of his grace,The king hath seen me face to face;And, judging by his looks and actions,I gave the best of satisfactions.When I am dead, ’tis plain enough,My skin will make his […]

Two pilgrims on the sand espiedAn oyster thrown up by the tide.In hope, both swallow’d ocean’s fruit;But ere the fact there came dispute.While one stoop’d down to take the prey,The other push’d him quite away.Said he, “‘Twere rather meetTo settle which shall eat.Why, he who first the oyster sawShould be its eater by the law;The […]

A fool, in town, did wisdom cry;The people, eager, flock’d to buy.Each for his money got,Paid promptly on the spot,Besides a box upon the head,Two fathoms’ length of thread.The most were vex’d–but quite in vain,The public only mock’d their pain.The wiser they who nothing said,But pocketed the box and thread.To search the meaning of the […]

Nothing Too Much

Story type: Poetry

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Look where we will throughout creation,We look in vain for moderation. The grain, best gift of Ceres fair,Green waving in the genial air,By overgrowth exhausts the soil;By superfluity of leavesDefrauds the treasure of its sheaves,And mocks the busy farmer’s toil.Not less redundant is the tree,So sweet a thing is luxury.The grain within due bounds to […]

A Troutling, some time since,Endeavour’d vainly to convinceA hungry fishermanOf his unfitness for the frying-pan.The fisherman had reason good–The troutling did the best he could–Both argued for their lives.Now, if my present purpose thrives,I’ll prop my former propositionBy building on a small addition.A certain wolf, in point of witThe prudent fisher’s opposite,A dog once finding […]

“O Jupiter, whose fruitful brain,By odd obstetrics freed from pain,Bore Pallas, erst my mortal foe,Pray listen to my tale of woe.This Progne takes my lawful prey.As through the air she cuts her way,My flies she catches from my door,–Yes, mine–I emphasize the word,–And, but for this accursed bird,My net would hold an ample store:For I […]

A joker at a banker’s table,Most amply spread to satisfyThe height of epicurean wishes,Had nothing near but little fishes.So, taking several of the fry,He whisper’d to them very nigh,And seem’d to listen for reply.The guests much wonder’d what it meant,And stared upon him all intent.The joker, then, with sober face,Politely thus explain’d the case:“A friend […]

A goat, a sheep, and porker fat,All to the market rode together.Their own amusement was not thatWhich caused their journey thither.Their coachman did not mean to “set them down”To see the shows and wonders of the town.The porker cried, in piercing squeals,As if with butchers at his heels.The other beasts, of milder mood,The cause by […]

A country rat, of little brains,Grown weary of inglorious rest,Left home with all its straws and grains,Resolved to know beyond his nest.When peeping through the nearest fence,“How big the world is, how immense!”He cried; “there rise the Alps, and thatIs doubtless famous Ararat.”His mountains were the works of moles,Or dirt thrown up in digging holes!Some […]

Along the road an ass and dogOne master following, did jog.Their master slept: meanwhile, the assApplied his nippers to the grass,Much pleased in such a place to stop,Though there no thistle he could crop.He would not be too delicate,Nor spoil a dinner for a plate,Which, but for that, his favourite dish,Were all that any ass […]

Two lean and hungry mastiffs once espiedA dead ass floating on a water wide.The distance growing more and more,Because the wind the carcass bore,–“My friend,” said one, “your eyes are best;Pray let them on the water rest:What thing is that I seem to see?An ox, or horse? what can it be?”“Hey!” cried his mate; “what […]


Story type: Poetry

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

Rejoicing on their tyrant’s wedding-day,The people drown’d their care in drink;While from the general joy did AEsop shrink,And show’d its folly in this way.“The sun,” said he, “once took it in his headTo have a partner: so he wed.From swamps, and ponds, and marshy bogs,Up rose the wailings of the frogs.“What shall we do, should […]

Left kingless by the lion’s death,The beasts once met, our story saith,Some fit successor to install.Forth from a dragon-guarded, moated place,The crown was brought, and, taken from its case,And being tried by turns on all,The heads of most were found too small;Some horned were, and some too big;Not one would fit the regal gear.For ever […]

A countryman, as AEsop certifies,A charitable man, but not so wise,One day in winter found,Stretch’d on the snowy ground,A chill’d or frozen snake,As torpid as a stake,And, if alive, devoid of sense.He took him up, and bore him home,And, thinking not what recompenseFor such a charity would come,Before the fire stretch’d him,And back to being […]

The Phaeton who drove a load of hayOnce found his cart bemired.Poor man! the spot was far awayFrom human help–retired,In some rude country place,In Brittany, as near as I can trace,Near Quimper Corentan,–A town that poet never sang,–Which Fate, they say, puts in the traveller’s path,When she would rouse the man to special wrath.May Heaven […]

Two parts the serpent has–Of men the enemies–The head and tail: the sameHave won a mighty fame,Next to the cruel Fates;–So that, indeed, henceThey once had great debatesAbout precedence.The first had always gone ahead;The tail had been for ever led;And now to Heaven it pray’d,And said,“O, many and many a league,Dragg’d on in sore fatigue,Behind […]

The Heron

Story type: Poetry

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One day,–no matter when or where,–A long-legg’d heron chanced to fareBy a certain river’s brink,With his long, sharp beakHelved on his slender neck;‘Twas a fish-spear, you might think.The water was clear and still,The carp and the pike there at willPursued their silent fun,Turning up, ever and anon,A golden side to the sun.With ease might the […]

As went a goat of grass to take her fill,And browse the herbage of a distant hill,She latch’d her door, and bid,With matron care, her kid;“My daughter, as you live,This portal don’t undoTo any creature whoThis watchword does not give:‘Deuce take the wolf and all his race!’”The wolf was passing near the placeBy chance, and […]

The Cunning Fox

Story type: Poetry

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A fox once practised, ’tis believed,A stratagem right well conceived.The wretch, when in the utmost straitBy dogs of nose so delicate,Approach’d a gallows, where,A lesson to like passengers,Or clothed in feathers or in furs,Some badgers, owls, and foxes, pendent were.Their comrade, in his pressing need,Arranged himself among the dead.I seem to see old HannibalOutwit some […]

The sage Levantines have a taleAbout a rat that weary grewOf 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 beenWith claws and teeth so good,That in his novel hermitage,He had in store, for wants […]

A fox, old, subtle, vigilant, and sly,–By hunters wounded, fallen in the mud,–Attracted by the traces of his blood,That buzzing parasite, the fly.He blamed the gods, and wonder’d whyThe Fates so cruelly should wishTo feast the fly on such a costly dish.“What! light on me! make me its food!Me, me, the nimblest of the wood!How […]

The Ape

Story type: Poetry

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There is an ape in Paris,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 ween, in vain;The father laughs: his wife is dead,And he has other loves again,Which he will also beat, I think,–Return’d from tavern drown’d in […]

A braggart, lover of the chase,Had lost a dog of valued race,And thought him in a lion’s maw.He ask’d a shepherd whom he saw,“Pray show me, man, the robber’s place,And I’ll have justice in the case.”“‘Tis on this mountain side,”The shepherd man replied.“The tribute of a sheep I pay,Each month, and where I please I […]

The eagle, through the air a queen,And one far different, I ween,In temper, language, thought, and mien,–The magpie,–once a prairie cross’d.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 beFull oft […]

A blundering bat once stuck her headInto a wakeful weasel’s bed;Whereat the mistress of the house,A deadly foe of rats and mice,Was making ready in a triceTo eat the stranger as a mouse.“What! do you dare,” she said, “to creep inThe very bed I sometimes sleep in,Now, after all the provocationI’ve suffered from your thievish […]

Two bulls engaged in shocking battle,Both for a certain heifer’s sake,And lordship over certain cattle,A frog began to groan and quake.“But what is this to you?”Inquired another of the croaking crew.“Why, sister, don’t you see,The end of this will be,That one of these big brutes will yield,And then be exiled from the field?No more permitted […]

A man, whom I shall call an ass-eteer,His sceptre like some Roman emperor bearing,Drove on two coursers of protracted ear,The one, with sponges laden, briskly faring;The other lifting legsAs if he trod on eggs,With constant need of goading,And bags of salt for loading.O’er hill and dale our merry pilgrims pass’d,Till, coming to a river’s ford […]

A bird, with plumed arrow shot,In dying case deplored her lot:“Alas!” she cried, “the anguish of the thought!This ruin partly by myself was brought!Hard-hearted men! from us to borrowWhat wings to us the fatal arrow!But mock us not, ye cruel race,For you must often take our place.” The work of half the human brothersIs making […]

From home and city spires, one day,The swallow Progne flew away,And sought the bosky dellWhere sang poor Philomel.“My sister,” Progne said, “how do you do?‘Tis now a thousand years since youHave been conceal’d from human view;I’m sure I have not seen your faceOnce since the times of Thrace.Pray, will you never quit this dull retreat?”“Where […]

A picture once was shown,In which one man, alone,Upon the ground had thrownA lion fully grown.Much gloried at the sight the rabble.A lion thus rebuked their babble:–“That you have got the victory there,There is no contradiction.But, gentles, possibly you areThe dupes of easy fiction:Had we the art of making pictures,Perhaps our champion had beat yours!”

The first who saw the humpback’d camelFled off for life; the next approach’d with care;The third with tyrant rope did boldly dareThe desert wanderer to trammel.Such is the power of use to changeThe face of objects new and strange;Which grow, by looking at, so tame,They do not even seem the same.And since this theme is […]

A man, who had no rivals in the loveWhich to himself he bore,Esteem’d his own dear beauty far aboveWhat earth had seen before.More than contented in his error,He lived the foe of every mirror.Officious fate, resolved our loverFrom such an illness should recover,Presented always to his eyesThe mute advisers which the ladies prize;–Mirrors in parlours, […]

A poor wood-chopper, with his fagot load,Whom weight of years, as well as load, oppress’d,Sore groaning in his smoky hut to rest,Trudged wearily along his homeward road.At last his wood upon the ground he throws,And sits him down to think o’er all his woes.To joy a stranger, since his hapless birth,What poorer wretch upon this […]

An envoy of the Porte Sublime,As history says, once on a time,Before th’ imperial German courtDid rather boastfully report,The troops commanded by his master’s firman,As being a stronger army than the German:To which replied a Dutch attendant,“Our prince has more than one dependantWho keeps an army at his own expense.”The Turk, a man of sense,Rejoin’d, […]

The oak one day address’d the reed:–“To you ungenerous indeedHas nature been, my humble friend,With weakness aye obliged to bend.The smallest bird that flits in airIs quite too much for you to bear;The slightest wind that wreathes the lakeYour ever-trembling head doth shake.The while, my towering formDares with the mountain topThe solar blaze to stop,And […]

“The artist by his work is known.”A piece of honey-comb, one day,Discover’d as a waif and stray,The hornets treated as their own.Their title did the bees dispute,And brought before a wasp the suit.The judge was puzzled to decide,For nothing could be testifiedSave that around this honey-combThere had been seen, as if at home,Some longish, brownish, […]

Old Rodilard, a certain cat,Such havoc of the rats had made,‘Twas difficult to find a ratWith nature’s debt unpaid.The few that did remain,To leave their holes afraid,From usual food abstain,Not eating half their fill.And wonder no one willThat one who made of rats his revel,With rats pass’d not for cat, but devil.Now, on a day, […]

The Two Asses

Story type: Poetry

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Two asses tracking, t’other day,Of which each in his turn,Did incense to the other burn,Quite in the usual way,–I heard one to his comrade say,“My lord, do you not findThe prince of knaves and foolsTo be this man, who boasts of mindInstructed in his schools?With wit unseemly and profane,He mocks our venerable race–On each of […]

“What! shall I lose them one by one,This stupid coward throng?And never shall the wolf have done?They were at least a thousand strong,But still they’ve let poor Robin fall a prey!Ah, woe’s the day!Poor Robin Wether lying dead!He follow’d for a bit of breadHis master through the crowded city,And would have follow’d, had he led,Around […]

A shepherd, with a single dog,Was ask’d the reason whyHe kept a dog, whose least supplyAmounted to a loaf of breadFor every day. The people saidHe’d better give the animalTo guard the village seignior’s hall;For him, a shepherd, it would beA thriftier economyTo keep small curs, say two or three,That would not cost him half […]

The heifer, the goat, and their sister the sheep,Compacted their earnings in common to keep,‘Tis said, in time past, with a lion, who sway’dFull lordship o’er neighbours, of whatever grade.The goat, as it happen’d, a stag having snared,Sent off to the rest, that the beast might be shared.All gather’d; the lion first counts on his […]

The Two Mules

Story type: Poetry

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Two mules were bearing on their backs,One, oats; the other, silver of the tax.The latter glorying in his load,March’d proudly forward on the road;And, from the jingle of his bell,‘Twas plain he liked his burden well.But in a wild-wood glenA band of robber menRush’d forth upon the twain.Well with the silver pleased,They by the bridle […]

Two rats in foraging fell on an egg,–For gentry such as theyA genteel dinner every way;They needed not to find an ox’s leg.Brimful of joy and appetite,They were about to sack the box,So tight without the aid of locks,When suddenly there came in sightA personage–Sir Pullet Fox.Sure, luck was never more untowardSince Fortune was a […]

A beldam kept two spinning maids,Who plied so handily their trades,Those spinning sisters down belowWere bunglers when compared with these.No care did this old woman knowBut giving tasks as she might please.No sooner did the god of dayHis glorious locks enkindle,Than both the wheels began to play,And from each whirling spindleForth danced the thread right […]

A field in common shareA partridge and a hare,And live in peaceful state,Till, woeful to relate!The hunters’ mingled cryCompels the hare to fly.He hurries to his fort,And spoils almost the sportBy faulting every houndThat yelps upon the ground.At last his reeking heatBetrays his snug retreat.Old Tray, with philosophic nose,Snuffs carefully, and growsSo certain, that he […]

An ass, with relics for his load,Supposed the worship on the roadMeant for himself alone,And took on lofty airs,Receiving as his ownThe incense and the prayers.Some one, who saw his great mistake,Cried, “Master Donkey, do not makeYourself so big a fool.Not you they worship, but your pack;They praise the idols on your back,And count yourself […]

An old man, riding on his ass,Had found a spot of thrifty grass,And there turn’d loose his weary beast.Old Grizzle, pleased with such a feast,Flung up his heels, and caper’d round,Then roll’d and rubb’d upon the ground,And frisk’d and browsed and bray’d,And many a clean spot made.Arm’d men came on them as he fed:“Let’s fly,” […]

The lion had an enterprise in hand;Held a war-council, sent his provost-marshal,And gave the animals a call impartial–Each, in his way, to serve his high command.The elephant should carry on his backThe tools of war, the mighty public pack,And fight in elephantine way and form;The bear should hold himself prepared to storm;The fox all secret […]

The Wax-Candle

Story type: Poetry

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From bowers of gods the bees came down to man.On Mount Hymettus, first, they say,They made their home, and stored awayThe treasures which the zephyrs fan.When men had robb’d these daughters of the sky,And left their palaces of nectar dry,–Or, in English as the thing’s explain’d,When hives were of their honey drain’d–The spoilers ‘gan the […]

A gardener’s ass complain’d to DestinyOf being made to rise before the dawn.“The cocks their matins have not sung,” said he,“Ere I am up and gone.And all for what? To market herbs, it seems.Fine cause, indeed, to interrupt my dreams!”Fate, moved by such a prayer,Sent him a currier’s load to bear,Whose hides so heavy and […]

The pleasures of a poultry yardWere by a swan and gosling shared.The swan was kept there for his looks,The thrifty gosling for the cooks;The first the garden’s pride, the latterA greater favourite on the platter.They swam the ditches, side by side,And oft in sports aquatic vied,Plunging, splashing far and wide,With rivalry ne’er satisfied.One day the […]

The king of animals, with royal grace,Would celebrate his birthday in the chase.‘Twas not with bow and arrows,To slay some wretched sparrows;The lion hunts the wild boar of the wood,The antlered deer and stags, the fat and good.This time, the king, t’ insure success,Took for his aide-de-camp an ass,A creature of stentorian voice,That felt much […]

A weasel through a hole contrived to squeeze,(She was recovering from disease,)Which led her to a farmer’s hoard.There lodged, her wasted form she cherish’d;Heaven knows the lard and victuals storedThat by her gnawing perish’d!Of which the consequenceWas sudden corpulence.A week or so was past,When having fully broken fast,A noise she heard, and hurriedTo find the […]

A pagan kept a god of wood,–A sort that never hears,Though furnish’d well with ears,–From which he hoped for wondrous good.The idol cost the board of three;So much enrich’d was heWith vows and offerings vain,With bullocks garlanded and slain:No idol ever had, as that,A kitchen quite so full and fat.But all this worship at his […]

One’s native talent from its courseCannot be turned aside by force;But poorly apes the country clownThe polish’d manners of the town.Their Maker chooses but a fewWith power of pleasing to imbue;Where wisely leave it we, the mass,Unlike a certain fabled ass,That thought to gain his master’s blessingBy jumping on him and caressing.“What!” said the donkey […]

Some beast with horns did goreThe lion; and that sovereign dread,Resolved to suffer so no more,Straight banish’d from his realm, ’tis said,All sorts of beasts with horns–Rams, bulls, goats, stags, and unicorns.Such brutes all promptly fled.A hare, the shadow of his ears perceiving,Could hardly help believingThat some vile spy for horns would take them,And food […]

A wolf, affirming his beliefThat he had suffer’d by a thief,Brought up his neighbour fox–Of whom it was by all confess’d,His character was not the best–To fill the prisoner’s box.As judge between these vermin,A monkey graced the ermine;And truly other gifts of ThemisDid scarcely seem his;For while each party plead his cause,Appealing boldly to the […]

Two thieves, pursuing their profession,Had of a donkey got possession,Whereon a strife arose,Which went from words to blows.The question was, to sell, or not to sell;But while our sturdy champions fought it well,Another thief, who chanced to pass,With ready wit rode off the ass. This ass is, by interpretation,Some province poor, or prostrate nation.The thieves […]

The Nightingale

Story type: Poetry

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NO easy matter ’tis to hold,Against its owner’s will, the fleeceWho troubled by the itching smartOf Cupid’s irritating dart,Eager awaits some Jason boldTo grant release.E’en dragon huge, or flaming steer,When Jason’s loved will cause no fear. Duennas, grating, bolt and lock,All obstacles can naught avail;Constraint is but a stumbling block;For youthful ardour must prevail.Girls are […]

JOHN courts Perrette; but all in vain;Love’s sweetest oaths, and tears, and sighsAll potent spells her heart to gainThe ardent lover vainly tries:Fruitless his arts to make her waver,She will not grant the smallest favour:A ruse our youth resolved to tryThe cruel air to mollify:–Holding his fingers ten outspreadTo Perrette’s gaze, and with no dread“So […]

The Pitcher

Story type: Poetry

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THE simple Jane was sent to bringFresh water from the neighb’ring spring;The matter pressed, no time to waste,Jane took her jug, and ran in hasteThe well to reach, but in her flurry(The more the speed the worse the hurry),Tripped on a rolling stone, and brokeHer precious pitcher,–ah! no joke!Nay, grave mishap! ’twere better farTo break […]

The Gascon

Story type: Poetry

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I AM always inclined to suspectThe best story under the sunAs soon as by chance I detectThat teller and hero are one. We’re all of us prone to conceit,And like to proclaim our own glory,But our purpose we’re apt to defeatAs actors in chief of our story. To prove the truth of what I stateLet […]

The Dress-Maker

Story type: Poetry

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A CLOISTERED nun had a loverDwelling in the neighb’ring town;Both racked their brains to discoverHow they best their love might crown.The swain to pass the convent-door!–No easy matter!–Thus they swore,And wished it light.–I ne’er knew a nunIn such a pass to be outdone:–In woman’s clothes the youth must dress,And gain admission. I confessThe ruse has […]

Said the Tortoise one day to the Hare:“I’ll run you a race if you dare.I’ll bet you cannotArrive at that spotAs quickly as I can get there.” Quoth the Hare: “You are surely insane.Pray, what has affected your brain?You seem pretty sick.Call a doctor in–quick,And let him prescribe for your pain.” “Never mind,” said the […]

A long-legged Heron, with long neck and beak,Set out for a stroll by the bank of a creek.So clear was the water that if you looked sharpYou could see the pike caper around with the carp.The Heron might quickly have speared enough fishTo make for his dinner a capital dish.But he was a very particular […]

An Eagle swooped from out the sky,And carried off a sheep.A Raven seeing him, said: “ICould do that too if I should try.His meal comes mighty cheap.” Of all that well-fed flock was oneAs fat as fat could be.The Raven rose, and lit uponHer back. She seemed to weigh a ton–So very fat was she. […]

A Miller and Son once set out for the fair,To sell a fine ass they had brought up with care;And the way that they started made everyone stare. To keep the Ass fresh, so the beast would sell dearOn a pole they slung him. It surely seemed queer:He looked, with heels up, like some huge […]

JOHN, as he came, so went away,Consuming capital and pay,Holding superfluous riches cheap;The trick of spending time he knew,Dividing it in portions two,For idling one, and one for sleep.

Mr. Raven was perched upon a limb,And Reynard the Fox looked up at him;For the Raven held in his great big beakA morsel the Fox would go far to seek. Said the Fox, in admiring tones: “My word!Sir Raven, you are a handsome bird.Such feathers! If you would only sing,The birds of these woods would […]

A City Mouse, with ways polite,A Country Mouse invitedTo sup with him and spend the night.Said Country Mouse: “De–lighted!”In truth it proved a royal treat,With everything that’s good to eat. Alas! When they had just begunTo gobble their dinner,A knock was heard that made them run.The City Mouse seemed thinner.And as they scampered and turned […]

There was a little FogWhose home was in a bog,And he worried ’cause he wasn’t big enough.He sees an ox and cries:“That’s just about my size,If I stretch myself–Say Sister, see me puff!” So he blew, blew, blew,Saying: “Sister, will that do?”But she shook her head. And then he lost his wits.For he stretched and […]

To this lesson in greed,Pray, little ones, heed: Each day, we are told,A most wonderful HenLaid an egg made of goldFor this meanest of men. So greedy was he,He was not satisfied.“What is one egg to me?I want all that’ inside!” He cut off her head,And began to explore.But the poor hen was dead.And could […]

A foolish Dog, who carried in his jawA juicy bone,Looked down into a stream, and there he sawAnother one,Splash! In he plunged.. The image disappeared–The meat he had was gone.Indeed, he nearly sank,And barely reached the bank.

Once there was a country bumpkinWho observed a great big pumpkinTo a slender stem attached;While upon an oak tree nourished,Little acorns grew and flourished.“Bah!” said he. “That’s badly matched.” “If, despite my humble station,I’d a hand in this Creation,Pumpkins on the oaks would be;And the acorn, light and little,On this pumpkin stem so brittleWould be […]

A fool pursued, with club and stone,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,‘Tis said. There comes a wealthy squire,Who hath wherewith thy works to pay;To him direct thy gifts, and theyShall gain their proper recompense.’Urged by the hope of […]

‘You villain!’ cried a man who foundAn adder coil’d upon the ground,‘To do a very grateful deedFor all the world, I shall proceed.’On this the animal perverse(I mean the snake;Pray don’t mistakeThe human for the worse)Was caught and bagg’d, and, worst of all,His blood was by his captor to be spiltWithout regard to innocence or […]

The English Fox

Story type: Poetry

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To Madame Harvey.[1] Sound reason and a tender heartWith thee are friends that never part.A hundred traits might swell the roll;–Suffice to name thy nobleness of soul;Thy power to guide both men and things;Thy temper open, bland and free,A gift that draweth friends to thee,To which thy firm affection clings,Unmarr’d by age or change of […]

An Imitation Of Theocritus. To Madame De La Mesangere.[1] Offspring of her to whom, to-day,While from thy lovely self away,A thousand hearts their homage pay,Besides the throngs whom friendship binds to please,And some whom love presents thee on their knees!A mandate which I cannot thrust asideBetween you both impels me to divideSome of the incense […]

A mouse was once in mortal fearOf a cat that watch’d 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 lordship–I should say his ratship–Lay in a great hotel;And who had boasted oft, ’tis said,Of living wholly without […]

Three saints, for their salvation jealous,Pursued, with hearts alike most zealous,By routes diverse, their common aim.All highways lead to Rome: the sameOf heaven our rivals deeming true,Each chose alone his pathway to pursue.Moved by the cares, delays, and crossesAttach’d to suits by legal process,One gave himself as judge, without reward,For earthly fortune having small regard.Since […]

To Monseigneur The Duke De Bourgogne.[1] Dear prince, a special favourite of the skies,Pray let my incense from your altars rise.With these her gifts, if rather late my muse,My age and labours must her fault excuse.My spirit wanes, while yours beams on the sightAt every moment with augmented light:It does not go–it runs,–it seems to […]

A man was planting at fourscore.Three striplings, who their satchels wore,‘In building,’ cried, ‘the sense were more;But then to plant young trees at that age!The man is surely in his dotage.Pray, in the name of common sense,What fruit can he expect to gatherOf all this labour and expense?Why, he must live like Lamech’s father!What use […]

A bush, duck, and bat, having found that in trade,Confined to their country, small profits were made,Into partnership enter’d to traffic abroad,Their purse, held in common, well guarded from fraud.Their factors and agents, these trading alliesEmploy’d where they needed, as cautious as wise:Their journals and ledgers, exact and discreet,Recorded by items expense and receipt.All throve, […]

To His August Highness, Monseigneur The Prince De Conti.[1] The gods, for that themselves are good,The like in mortal monarchs would.The prime of royal rights is grace;To this e’en sweet revenge gives place.So thinks your highness,–while your wrathIts cradle for its coffin hath.Achilles no such conquest knew–In this a hero less than you.That name indeed […]

Love And Folly

Story type: Poetry

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Love and Folly[1] Love bears a world of mystery–His arrows, quiver, torch, and infancy:‘Tis not a trifling work to soundA sea of science so profound:And, hence, t’ explain it all to-dayIs 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 […]

A Scythian philosopher austere,Resolved his rigid life somewhat to cheer,Perform’d the tour of Greece, saw many things,But, best, a sage,–one such as Virgil sings,–A simple, rustic man, that equal’d 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, […]

To Madame De La Sabliere. A temple I reserved you in my rhyme:It might not be completed but with time.Already its endurance I had groundedUpon this charming art, divinely founded;And on the name of that divinityFor whom its adoration was to be.These words I should have written o’er its gate–TO IRIS IS THIS PALACE CONSECRATE;Not […]

‘Twixt elephant and beast of horned noseAbout precedence a dispute arose,Which they determined to decide by blows.The day was fix’d, when came a messengerTo say the ape of JupiterWas swiftly earthward seen to bearHis bright caduceus through the air.This monkey, named in history Gill,The elephant at once believedA high commission had receivedTo witness, by his […]

Four voyagers to parts unknown,On shore, not far from naked, thrownBy furious waves,–a merchant, now undone,A noble, shepherd, and a monarch’s son,–Brought to the lot of Belisarius,[A]Their wants supplied on alms precarious.To tell what fates, and winds, and weather,Had brought these mortals all together,Though from far distant points abscinded,Would make my tale long-winded.Suffice to say, […]

For Monseigneur The Duke Du Maine. To Jupiter was born a son,[3]Who, conscious of his origin,A godlike spirit had within.To love, such age is little prone;Yet this celestial boyMade love his chief employ,And was beloved wherever known.In him both love and reasonSprang up before their season.With charming smiles and manners winning,Had Flora deck’d his life’s […]

Long since, a Mogul saw, in dream,A vizier in Elysian bliss;No higher joy could be or seem,Or purer, than was ever his.Elsewhere was dream’d of by the sameA wretched hermit wrapp’d in flame,Whose lot e’en touch’d, so pain’d was he,The partners of his misery.Was Minos mock’d? or had these ghosts,By some mistake, exchanged their posts?Surprise […]

The wolf and fox are neighbours strange:I would not build within their range.The fox once eyed with strict regardFrom day to day, a poultry-yard;But though a most accomplish’d cheat,He could not get a fowl to eat.Between the risk and appetite,His rogueship’s trouble was not slight.‘Alas!’ quoth he, ‘this stupid rabbleBut mock me with their constant […]

To judge no man by outside view,Is good advice, though not quite new.Some time ago a mouse’s frightUpon this moral shed some light.I have for proof at present,With, Aesop and good Socrates,[A]Of Danube’s banks a certain peasant,Whose portrait drawn to life, one sees,By Marc Aurelius, if you please.The first are well known, far and near:I […]

The lion, for his kingdom’s sake,In morals would some lessons take,And therefore call’d, one summer’s day,The monkey, master of the arts,An animal of brilliant parts,To hear what he could say.‘Great king,’ the monkey thus began,‘To reign upon the wisest planRequires a prince to set his zeal,And passion for the public weal,Distinctly and quite high aboveA […]

With a set of uncivil and turbulent cocks,That deserved for their noise to be put in the stocks,A partridge was placed to be rear’d.Her sex, by politeness revered,Made her hope, from a gentry devoted to love,For the courtesy due to the tenderest dove;Nay, protection chivalric from knights of the yard.That gentry, however, with little regardFor […]

A close-fist had his money hoardedBeyond the room his till afforded.His avarice aye growing ranker,(Whereby his mind of course grew blanker,)He was perplex’d to choose a banker;For banker he must have, he thought,Or all his heap would come to nought.‘I fear,’ said he, ‘if kept at home,And other robbers should not come,It might be equal […]

Two demons at their pleasure share our being–The cause of Reason from her homestead fleeing;No heart but on their altars kindleth flames.If you demand their purposes and names,The one is Love, the other is Ambition.Of far the greater share this takes possession,For even into love it enters,Which I might prove; but now my story centresUpon […]

Two parrots lived, a sire and son,On roastings from a royal fire.Two demigods, a son and sire,These parrots pension’d for their fun.Time tied the knot of love sincere:The sires grew to each other dear;The sons, in spite of their frivolity,Grew comrades boon, in joke and jollity;At mess they mated, hot or cool;Were fellow-scholars at a […]

Thrysis–who for his Annette dearMade music with his flute and voice,Which might have roused the dead to hear,And in their silent graves rejoice–Sang once the livelong day,In the flowery month of May,Up and down a meadow brook,While Annette fish’d with line and hook.But ne’er a fish would bite;So the shepherdess’s baitDrew not a fish to […]

No flowery path to glory leads.This truth no better voucher needsThan Hercules, of mighty deeds.Few demigods, the tomes of fableReveal to us as being ableSuch weight of task-work to endure:In history, I find still fewer.One such, however, here behold–A knight by talisman made bold,Within the regions of romance,To seek adventures with the lance.There rode a […]

The Rabbits

Story type: Poetry

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An Address To The Duke De La Rochefoucauld While watching man in all his phases,And seeing that, in many cases,He acts just like the brute creation,–I’ve thought the lord of all these racesOf no less failings show’d the tracesThan do his lieges in relation;And that, in making it, Dame NatureHath put a spice in every […]

A mouse once from an owl’s beak fell;I’d not have pick’d it up, I wis;A Brahmin did it: very well;Each country has its prejudice.The mouse, indeed, was sadly bruised.Although, as neighbours, we are usedTo be more kind to many others,The Brahmins treat the mice as brothers.The notion haunts their heads, that whenThe soul goes forth […]

A man that loved,–and loved his wife,–Still led an almost joyless life.No tender look, nor gracious word,Nor smile, that, coming from a bride,Its object would have deified,E’er told her doting lordThe love with which he burn’dWas in its kind return’d.Still unrepining at his lot,This man, thus tied in Hymen’s knot,Thank’d God for all the good […]

How danger would the gods enrich,If we the vows remember’d whichIt drives us to! But, danger past,Kind Providence is paid the last.No earthly debt is treated so.‘Now, Jove,’ the wretch exclaims, ‘will wait;He sends no sheriff to one’s gate,Like creditors below;’But, let me ask the dolt,What means the thunderbolt? A passenger, endanger’d by the sea,Had […]

A man whose credit fail’d, and what was worse,Who lodged the devil in his purse,–That is to say, lodged nothing there,–By self-suspension in the airConcluded his accounts to square,Since, should he not, he understood,From various tokens, famine would–A death for which no mortal wightHad ever any appetite.A ruin, crown’d with ivy green,Was of his tragedy […]

No pond nor pool within his hauntBut paid a certain cormorantIts contribution from its fishes,And stock’d his kitchen with good dishes.Yet, when old age the bird had chill’d,His kitchen was less amply fill’d.All cormorants, however grey,Must die, or for themselves purvey.But ours had now become so blind,His finny prey he could not find;And, having neither […]

A noted thief, the kite,Had set a neighbourhood in fright,And raised the clamorous noiseOf all the village boys,When, by misfortune,–sad to say,–A nightingale fell in his way.Spring’s herald begg’d him not to eatA bird for music–not for meat.‘O spare!’ cried she, ‘and I’ll relate‘The crime of Tereus and his fate.’–‘What’s Tereus? Is it food for […]

The Two Doves

Story type: Poetry

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Two doves once cherish’d for each otherThe love that brother hath for brother.But one, of scenes domestic tiring,To see the foreign world aspiring,Was fool enough to undertakeA journey long, o’er land and lake.‘What plan is this?’ the other cried;‘Wouldst quit so soon thy brother’s side?This absence is the worst of ills;Thy heart may bear, but […]

Thanks to Memory’s daughters nine,Animals have graced my line:Higher heroes in my storyMight have won me less of glory.Wolves, in language of the sky,Talk with dogs throughout my verse;Beasts with others shrewdly vie,Representing characters;Fools in furs not second-hand,Sages, hoof’d or feather’d, stand:Fewer truly are the latter,More the former–ay, and fatter.Flourish also in my sceneTyrants, villains, […]

A boy who savour’d of his school,–A double rogue and double fool,–By youth and by the privilegeWhich pedants have, by ancient right,To alter reason, and abridge,–A neighbour robb’d, with fingers light,Of flowers and fruit. This neighbour had,Of fruits that make the autumn glad,The very best–and none but he.Each season brought, from plant and tree,To him […]

A block of marble was so fine,To buy it did a sculptor hasten.‘What shall my chisel, now ’tis mine–A god, a table, or a basin?’ ‘A god,’ said he, ‘the thing shall be;I’ll arm it, too, with thunder.Let people quake, and bow the kneeWith reverential wonder.’ So well the cunning artist wroughtAll things within a […]

A young country woman named Perrette set out one morning from her little dairy-farm with a pail of milk which she cleverly balanced upon her head over a pad or cushion. She hurried with sprightly steps to the market town, and so that she might be the less encumbered, wore a kirtle that was short […]

If goodness were always the comrade of beauty I would seek a wife to-morrow; but as divorce between these two is no new thing, and as there are so few lovely forms that enshrine lovely souls, thus uniting both one and the other delight, do not take it amiss that I refrain from seeking such […]

The Maiden

Story type: Literature

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A certain damsel of considerable pride made up her mind to choose a husband who should be young, well-built, and handsome; of agreeable manners and–note these two points–neither cold nor jealous. Moreover, she held it necessary that he should have means, high birth, intellect; in fact, everything. But whoever was endowed with everything? The fates […]

A man who had a great fondness for gardening, being half a countryman and half town-bred, possessed in a certain village a fair-sized plot with a field attached, and all enclosed by a quickset hedge. Here sorrel and lettuce grew freely, as well as such flowers as Spanish jasmine and wild thyme, and from these […]

The Power Of Fable

Story type: Literature

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In the old, vain, and fickle city of Athens, an orator,[2] seeing how the light-hearted citizens were blind to certain dangers which threatened the state, presented himself before the tribune, and there sought, by the very tyranny of his forceful eloquence, to move the heart of the republic towards a sense of the common welfare. […]

Our hands are no more proof against gold than our eyes are proof against beauty. There are but few who guard their treasures with care enough. A certain dog who had been taught to carry to his master the mid-day meal was one day trotting along with the savoury burden slung around his neck. He […]

There was a funeral. The dead body was progressing sadly towards its last resting place; and following rather gladly, was the priest who meant to bury it as soon as possible. The dead man, in a leaden coffin, was borne in a coach, and was properly shrouded in that robe the dead always wear be […]

Who does not run after Fortune? I would I were in some spot whence I could watch the eager crowds rushing from kingdom to kingdom in their vain chase after the daughter of Chance! They are indeed but faithful followers of a phantom; for when they think they have her, lo! she is gone! Poor […]

One day two pilgrims espied upon the sands of the shore an oyster that had been thrown up by the tide. They devoured it with their eyes whilst pointing at it with their fingers; but whose teeth should deal with it was a matter of dispute. When one stopped to pick up the prey the […]

It is not always wise to say to your company, “Just listen to this joke” or “What do you think of this for a marvel?” for one can never be sure that the listeners will regard the matter in the same way that the teller does. Yet here is a case that makes an exception […]

Mamma lioness had lost one of her cubs. Some hunter had made away with it, and the poor unfortunate mother roared out her wailings to such an extent that all the inhabitants of the forest were seriously disturbed. The spells of the night, its darkness and its silence, were powerless to hush the tumult of […]

Why does AEsop give to the fox the reputation of excelling in all tricks of cunning? I have sought for a reason, but cannot find one. Does not the wolf, when he has need to defend his life or take that of another, display as much knowingness as the fox? I believe he knows more, […]

“What have I done to be treated in this way? Mutilated by my own master! A nice state to be in! Dare I present myself before other dogs? O ye kings over the animals, or rather tyrants of them, would any creature do the same to you?” Such were the lamentations of poor Fido, a […]

The League Of Rats

Story type: Literature

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There was once a mouse who lived in terrible fear of a cat that had lain in wait watching for her. She was in great anxiety to know what she could do to escape the threatening danger. Being prudent and wise she consulted her neighbour, a large and important rat. His lordship the rat had […]

Some young turkeys were lucky enough to find a tree which served them as a citadel against the assaults of a certain fox. He, one night, having made the round of the rampart and seen each turkey watching like a sentinel, exclaimed, “What! These people laugh at me, do they? And do they think that […]

Once in the olden times the elephant and the rhinoceros disputed as to which was the more important, and which should, therefore, have empire over the other animals. They decided to settle the point by battle in an enclosed field. The day was fixed, and all in readiness, when somebody came and informed them that […]

A woodcutter had broken or lost the handle of his hatchet and found it not easy to get it repaired at once. During the time, therefore, that it was out of use, the woods enjoyed a respite from further damage. At last the man came humbly and begged of the forest to allow him gently […]

Three saints, all equally zealous and anxious for their salvation, had the same ideal, although the means by which they strove towards it were different. But as all roads lead to Rome, these three were each content to choose their own path. One, touched by the cares, the tediousness, and the reverses which seem to […]