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THE APE AND THE LEOPARD. Jean de La Fontaine

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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