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THE APE AND THE LEOPARD. Jean de La Fontaine

THE APE AND THE LEOPARD. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE APE AND THE LEOPARD. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

An Ape and a Leopard one day repair—
Money to gain—to a country fair,
And setting up separate booths they vie,
Each with each, in the arts of cajolery.
"Come, see me," cries Leopard, "come, gentlemen come,
The price of admission′s a very small sum;
To the great in all places my fame is well known,
And should death overtake me, the king on his throne
Would be glad of a robe from my skin;
For ′tis mottled and wattled,
And stained and ingrained
With spots and with lines, lines and spots thick and thin,
That truly, though modest, I can but declare,
′Tis by far the most wonderful thing in the fair."
This bounce attained its end, and so
The gulls came hurrying to the show;
But, the sight seen, and the cash spent,
They went away in discontent.
Meanwhile the Ape cries—"Come, and see
The sum of versatility!
Yon Leopard boasts, through thick and thin,
A splendid show of outside skin;
But many varied gifts I have
(For which your kind applause I crave)
All safely lodged my brain within.
Your servant I, Monsieur Guffaw,
The noble Bertrand′s son-in-law,
Chief monkey to his Holiness
The Pope. I now have come express,
In three huge ships, to have with you
The honour of an interview:
For speaking is my special forte,
And I can dance, and hoops jump through,
And other kinds of tumbling do,
And magic feats perform of every sort;
And for six blancos? no, I say, a sou;
But if with the performance you
Are discontented, at the door
To each his money we′ll restore."
And right was the Ape:
For the colour and shape
Of fine clothes can but please for awhile,
Whilst the charms of a brain
That is witty, remain,
And for ever can soothe and beguile.
Ah! there′s many a one,
Lord and gentleman′s son,
Who holds high estate here below,
Who to Leopards akin
Has nought but fine skin
As the sum of his merits to show.

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