HomeJean de La FontaineTHE LION, THE WOLF, AND THE FOX

THE LION, THE WOLF, AND THE FOX. Jean de La Fontaine

THE LION, THE WOLF, AND THE FOX. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE LION, THE WOLF, AND THE FOX. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

A Lion, sickly, weak, and full of years,
Desired a remedy against old age
(Impossible′s a word no monarch hears
Without directly flying in a rage).
He sent for doctors—men of draughts and pills;
From far and near, obedient to the call,
Came makers-up of recipes and pills:
The Fox alone declined to come at all.
At court the Wolf malignantly referred
To Reynard′s absence, whereupon the King—
Whose anger was aroused at what he heard—-
Decided on a rather cruel thing.
He sent a force to smoke sly Reynard out,
And bring him, willy nilly. When he came,
The Fox could scarcely entertain a doubt
As to whose tongue had put him thus to shame.
"I greatly fear, your Majesty," said he,
"You think me rude; you wrong me, if you do:
For I was on a pilgrimage, you see,
And went to offer up my vows for you.
I scarcely need inform you I have met
Expert physicians whilst I was away,
And hope to cure you of your sickness yet,
Which comes from coldness of the blood, they say
You must, sire, skin a Wolf, and wrap the skin
About you close, to get the body warmed;
And when the heat has kindled up within
The fires of life again, the cure′s performed.
Our friend, I′m sure, will take immense delight
In lending you his coat; so, take it, sire."
The Lion supped upon the Wolf that night,
And made the skin a part of his attire.

Courtiers, discretion is your safest plan:
Malice is sure to find its source again;
And, while you do yourself what good you can,
Reflect that slandering others is in vain.

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