A Hundred Fables of La Fontaine

A Hundred Fables of La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine
Jean de La Fontaine

Author: La Fontaine, Jean de, 1621-1695
French — Translations into English
A Hundred Fables of La Fontaine







Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh


The Acorn and the Pumpkin 128
The Animals Sick of the Plague 200
The Ape 90
The Ass and his Masters 34
The Ass and the Dog 120
The Ass and the Little Dog 18
The Ass Carrying Relics 26
The Ass Dressed in the Lion’s Skin 166
The Ass Loaded with Sponges 72
The Bat and the Two Weasels 66
The Battle of the Rats and the Weasels 198
The Bear and the Two Companions 194
The Bird Wounded by an Arrow 68
The Camel and the Floating Sticks 82
The Carter in the Mire 104
The Cat and the Fox 138
The Cat and the Two Sparrows 150
The Cock and the Fox 76
The Council held by the Rats 62
The Countryman and the Serpent 102
The Cunning Fox 88
Death and the Woodman 56
The Dog and his Master’s Dinner 110
The Dog whose Ears were Cropped 144
The Dove and the Ant 74
The Dragon with many Heads 54
The Eagle and the Magpie 94
The Eagle and the Owl 184
The Ears of the Hare 22
The Earthen Pot and the Iron Pot 192
Education 122
The Fool who Sold Wisdom 130
The Fox, the Flies, and the Hedgehog 92
The Fox, the Monkey, and the Animals 98
The Fox and the Turkeys 172
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Horse 170
The Grasshopper and the Ant 2
The Hare and the Partridge 28
The Head and the Tail of the Serpent 108
The Heifer, the Goat, and the Sheep 48
The Heron 106
The Hog, the Goat, and the Sheep 116
The Hornets and the Bees 58
The Horse and the Wolf 182
The Joker and the Fishes 112
The Lion and the Ass Hunting 8
The Lion and the Hunter 96
The Lion and the Gnat 70
The Lion and the Monkey 178
The Lion beaten by the Man 78
The Lioness and the Bear 146
The Lion Going to War 30
The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox 196
The Lobster and her Daughter 162
The Man and his Image 52
The Man and the Wooden God 20
The Man and the Owl 148
The Miser and the Monkey 186
The Monkey and the Cat 140
The Monkey and the Leopard 126
Nothing too Much 136
The Oak and the Reed 60
The Old Cat and the Young Mouse 154
The Old Man and the Ass 32
The Old Woman and her Servants 24
The Oyster and the Litigants 132
Philomet and Progne 80
The Ploughman and his Sons 164
The Quarrel of the Dogs and Cats 158
The Rat and the Elephant 118
The Rat and the Oyster 114
The Rat Retired from the World 86
The Shepherd and his Dog 44
The Shepherd and his Flock 38
The Shepherd and the Lion 180
The Shepherd and the Sea 16
The Sick Stag 156
The Spider and the Swallow 142
The Stag and the Vine 190
The Sun and the Frogs 100
The Swan and the Cook 12
The Thieves and the Ass 4
The Tortoise and the Two Ducks 40
The Two Asses 42
The Two Bulls and the Frog 64
The Two Dogs and the Dead Ass 124
The Two Goats 152
The Two Mules 46
The Two Rats, the Fox, and the Egg 50
The Vultures and the Pigeons 188
The Wallet 174
The Wax-Candle 36
The Weasel in the Granary 14
The Wolf Accusing the Fox 6
The Wolf and the Fox 160
The Wolf and the Lean Dog 134
The Wolf, the Goat, and the Kid 84
The Wolf turned Shepherd 10
The Woodman and Mercury 176
The Woods and the Woodman 168



The Grasshopper and the Ant.

A grasshopper gay
Sang the summer away,
And found herself poor
By the winter’s first roar.
Of meat or of bread,
Not a morsel she had!
So a-begging she went,
To her neighbour the ant,
For the loan of some wheat,
Which would serve her to eat,
Till the season came round.
“I will pay you,” she saith,
“On an animal’s faith,
Double weight in the pound
Ere the harvest be bound.”
The ant is a friend
(And here she might mend)
Little given to lend.
“How spent you the summer?”
Quoth she, looking shame
At the borrowing dame.
“Night and day to each comer
I sang, if you please.”
“You sang! I’m at ease;
For ’tis plain at a glance,
Now, ma’am, you must dance.”

The Thieves and the Ass.

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 are princes this and that,
On spoils and plunder prone to fat,—
As those of Austria, Turkey, Hungary.
(Instead of two, I’ve quoted three—
Enough of such commodity.)
These powers engaged in war all,
Some fourth thief stops the quarrel,
According all to one key,
By riding off the donkey

The Wolf Accusing the Fox.

A wolf, affirming his belief
That 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 Themis
Did scarcely seem his;
For while each party plead his cause,
Appealing boldly to the laws,
And much the question vex’d,
Our monkey sat perplex’d.
Their words and wrath expended,
Their strife at length was ended;
When, by their malice taught,
The judge this judgment brought:
“Your characters, my friends, I long have known,
As on this trial clearly shown;
And hence I fine you both—the grounds at large
To state would little profit—
You wolf, in short, as bringing groundless charge,
You fox, as guilty of it.”

Come at it right or wrong, the judge opined
No other than a villain could be fined

The Lion and the Ass Hunting.

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 honour’d by the choice.
The lion hid him in a proper station,
And order’d him to bray, for his vocation,
Assured that his tempestuous cry
The boldest beasts would terrify,
And cause them from their lairs to fly.
And, sooth, the horrid noise the creature made
Did strike the tenants of the wood with dread;
And, as they headlong fled,
All fell within the lion’s ambuscade.
“Has not my service glorious
Made both of us victorious?”
Cried out the much-elated ass.
“Yes,” said the lion; “bravely bray’d!
Had I not known yourself and race,
I should have been myself afraid!”
The donkey, had he dared,
With anger would have flared
At this retort, though justly made;
For who could suffer boasts to pass
So ill-befitting to an ass?

The Wolf turned Shepherd.

A wolf, whose gettings from the flocks
Began to be but few,
Bethought himself to play the fox
In character quite new.
A shepherd’s hat and coat he took,
A cudgel for a crook,
Nor e’en the pipe forgot:
And more to seem what he was not,
Himself upon his hat he wrote,
“I’m Willie, shepherd of these sheep.”
His person thus complete,
His crook in upraised feet,
The impostor Willie stole upon the keep.
The real Willie, on the grass asleep,
Slept there, indeed, profoundly,
His dog and pipe slept, also soundly;
His drowsy sheep around lay.
As for the greatest number,
Much bless’d the hypocrite their slumber,
And hoped to drive away the flock,
Could he the shepherd’s voice but mock.
He thought undoubtedly he could.
He tried: the tone in which he spoke,
Loud echoing from the wood,
The plot and slumber broke;
Sheep, dog, and man awoke.
The wolf, in sorry plight,
In hampering coat bedight,
Could neither run nor fight.

There’s always leakage of deceit
Which makes it never safe to cheat.
Whoever is a wolf had better
Keep clear of hypocritic fetter.

The Swan and the Cook.

The pleasures of a poultry yard
Were 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 latter
A greater favouri

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