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The Wallet

(Recueil 1, Livre 1, Fable 7)

 

 

From heaven, one day, did Jupiter proclaim,

"Let all that live before my throne appear,

And there if any one has anything 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, then, yourself with others,

Are you well satisfied?" "And why not?"

Says Jock. "Haven't I four trotters with the rest?

Is not my visage comely as the best?

But this my brother Bruin, is a blot

On your creation fair;

And sooner than be painted I had be shot,

Were I, great sire, a bear."

The bear approaching, does he make complaint?

Not he;—himself he lauds without restraint.

The elephant he needs must criticize;

To crop his ears and stretch his tail were wise;

A creature he of huge, misshapen size.

The elephant, though famed as beast judicious,

While on his own account he had no wishes,

Pronounced dame whale too big to suit his taste;

Of flesh and fat she was a perfect waste.

The little ant, again, pronounced the gnat too wee;

To such a speck, a vast colossus she.

Each censured by the rest, himself content,

Back to their homes all living things were sent.

Such folly lives yet with human fools.

For others lynxes, for ourselves but moles.

Great blemishes in other men we spy,

Which in ourselves we pass most kindly by.

As in this world we're but way-farers,

Kind Heaven has made us wallet-bearers.

The pouch behind our own defects must store,

The faults of others lodge in that before.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 1, Fable 7

 

 

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