THE TALES AND NOVELS - V8
THE TALES AND NOVELS - V8
JEAN DE LA FONTAINE
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks or pointers at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]
THE TALES AND NOVELS
J. DE LA FONTAINE
The Eel Pie
The Ephesian Matron
THE EEL PIE
HOWEVER exquisite we BEAUTY find
It satiates sense and palls upon the mind:
Brown bread as well as white must be for me;
My motto ever is--VARIETY.
THAT brisk brunette with languid sleepy eye
Delights my fancy; Can you tell me why?
The reason 's plain enough:--she 's something new.
The other mistress long within my view
Though lily fair with seraph features blessed
No more emotion raises in my breast;
Her heart assents while mine reluctant proves;
Whence this diversity that in us moves?
From hence it rises to be plain and free
My motto ever is--VARIETY.
THE same in other words I've often said;
'Tis right at times disguise with care to spread.
The maxim's good and with it I agree:
My motto ever is--VARIETY.
A CERTAIN spouse the same devise had got
Whose wife by all was thought a handsome lot.
His love howe'er was over very soon;
It lasted only through the honeymoon;
Possession had his passion quite destroyed;
In Hymen's bands too oft the lover 's cloyed.
ONE 'mong his valets had a pretty wife;
The master was himself quite full of life
And soon the charmer to his wishes drew
With which the husband discontented grew
And having caught them in the very fact
He rang his mate the changes for the act;
Sad names he called her howsoever just
A silly blockhead! thus to raise a dust
For what in ev'ry town 's so common found;
May we worse fortune never meet around!
HE made the paramour a grave harangue
Don't others give said he the poignant pang;
But ev'ry one allow to keep his own
As God and reason oft to man have shown
And recommended fully to observe;
You from it surely have not cause to swerve;
You cannot plead that you for beauty pine
You've one at home who far surpasses mine;
No longer give yourself such trouble pray:
You to my help-mate too much honour pay;
Such marked attentions she can ne'er require
Let each of us alone his own admire.
To others' WELLs you never ought to go
While your's with sweets is found to overflow;
I willingly appeal to connoisseurs;
If heav'n had blessed me with such bliss as your's
That when I please your lady I could take
I would not for a queen such charms forsake.
But since we can't prevent what now is known
I wish good sir contented with your own
(And 'tis I hope without offence I speak)
You'll favours from my wife no longer seek.
THE master neither no nor yes replied
But orders gave his man they should provide;
For dinner ev'ry day what pleased his taste
A pie of eels which near him should be placed.
HIS appetite at first was wond'rous great;
Again the second time as much he ate;
But when the third appeared he felt disgust
And not another morsel down could thrust.
The valet fain would try a diff'rent dish;
'Twas not allowed;--you've got said they your wish;
'Tis pie alone; you like it best you know
And no objection you must dare to show.
I'M surfeited cried he 'tis far too much:
Pie ev'ry day! and nothing else to touch!
Not e'en a roasted eel or stewed or fried!
Dry bread I'd rather you'd for me provide.
Of your's allow me some at any rate
Pies (devil take them!) thoroughly I hate;
They'll follow me to Paradise I fear
Or further yet;--Heav'n keep me from such cheer!
THEIR noisy mirth the master thither drew
Who much desired the frolick to pursue;
My friend said he I greatly feel surprise
That you so soon are weary grown of pies;
Have I not heard you frequently declare
Eel-pie 's of all the most delicious fare?
Quite fickle certainly must be your taste;
Can any thing in me so strange be traced?
When I exchange a food which you admire;
You blame and say I never ought to tire;
You do the very same; in truth my friend
No mark of folly 'tis you may depend
In lord or squire or citizen or clown
To change the bread that's white for bit of brown:
With more experience you'll with me agree--
My motto ever is--VARIETY.
WHEN thus the master had himself expressed
The valet presently was less distressed;
Some arguments howe'er at first he used;
For after all--are fully we excused
When we our pleasure solely have in view;
Without regarding what's to others due?
I relish change; well take it; but 'tis best
To gain the belles with love of gold possessed;
And that appears to me the proper plan;
In truth our lover very soon began
To practise this advice;--his voice and way
Could angel-sweetness instantly convey.
HIS words were always gilt; (impressive tongue!)
To gilded words will sure success belong.
In soft amours they're ev'ry thing 'tis plain
The maxim 's certain and our aim will gain;
My meaning doubtless easily is seen;
A hundred times repeated this has been
Th' impression should be made so very deep
That I thereon can never silence keep;
And this the constant burden of my song-
To gilded words will sure success belong.
THEY easily persuade the beauteous dame;
Her dog her maid duenna all the same;
The husband sometimes too and him we've shown
'Twas necessary here to gain alone;
By golden eloquence his soul was lulled;
Although from ancient orators not culled:
Their books retained have nothing of the kind;
Our jealous spouse indulgent grew we find.
He followed e'en 'tis said the other's plan--
And thence his dishes to exchange began.
THE master and his fav'rite's freaks around;
Continually the table-talk were found;
He always thought the newest face the best:
Where'er he could each beauty he caressed;
The wife the widow daughter servant-maid
The nymph of field or town:--with all he played;
And while he breathed the same would always be;
His motto ever was--VARIETY.
SOME wit handsome form and gen'rous mind;
A triple engine prove in love we find;
By these the strongest fortresses are gained
E'en rocks 'gainst such can never be sustained.
If you've some talents with a pleasing face
Your purse-strings open free and you've the place.
At times no doubt without these things success
Attends the gay gallant we must confess;
But then good sense should o'er his actions rule;
At all events he must not be a fool.
The stingy women ever will detest;
Words puppies want;--the lib'ral are the best.
A Florentine MAGNIFICENT by name
Was what we've just described in fact and fame;
The title was bestowed upon the knight
For noble deeds performed by him in fight.
The honour ev'ry way he well deserved;
His upright conduct (whence he never swerved)
Expensive equipage and presents made
Proclaimed him all around what we've pourtrayed.
WITH handsome person and a pleasing mien
Gallant a polished air and soul serene;
A certain fair of noble birth he sought
Whose conquest doubtless brilliant would be thought;
Which in our lover doubly raised desire;
Renown and pleasure lent his bosom fire.
THE jealous husband of the beauteous fair
Was Aldobrandin whose suspicious care
Resembled more what frequently is shown
For fav'rites mistresses than wives alone.
He watched her every step with all his eyes;
A hundred thousand scarcely would suffice;
Indeed quite useless Cupid these can make;
And Argus oft is subject to mistake:
Repeatedly they're duped although our wight
(Who fancied he in ev'ry thing was right)
Himself so perfectly secure believed
By gay gallants he ne'er could be deceived.
TO suitors howsoe'er he was not blind;
To covet presents greatly he inclined.
The lover yet had no occasion found
To drop a word to charms so much renowned;
He thought his passion was not even seen;
And if it had would things have better been?
What would have followed? what had been the end?
The reader needs no hint to comprehend.
BUT to return to our forlorn gallant
Whose bosom for the lady's 'gan to pant;
He to his doctor not a word had said;
Now here now there he tried to pop his head.
But neither door nor window could he find
Where he might glimpse the object of his mind
Or even hear her voice or sound her name;
No fortress had he ever found the same;
Yet still to conquer he was quite resolved
And oft the manner in his mind revolved.
This plan at length he thought would best succeed
To execute it doubtless he had need
Of ev'ry wily art he could devise
Surrounded as he was by eagle-eyes.
I THINK the reader I've already told
Our husband loved rich presents to behold;
Though none he made yet all he would receive;
Whate'er was offered he would never leave.
MAGNIFICENT a handsome horse had got
It ambled well or cantered or would trot;
He greatly valued it and for its pace
'Twas called the Pad; it stept with wond'rous grace:
By Aldobrandin it was highly praised;
Enough was this: the knight's fond hopes were raised;
Who offered to exchange but t'other thought
He in a barter might perhaps be caught.
'Tis not said he that I the horse refuse;
But I in trucking never fail to lose.
ON this Magnificent who saw his aim;
Replied well well a better scheme we'll frame;
No changing we'll allow but you'll permit
That for the horse I with your lady sit
You present all the while 'tis what I want;
I'm curious I confess and fort it pant.
Besides your friends assuredly should know
What mind what sentiments may from her flow.
Just fifteen minutes I no more desire:
What! cried the other you my wife require?
No no pray keep your horse that won't be right.
But you'll be present said the courteous knight.
And what of that? rejoined the wily spouse.
Why cried Magnificent then naught should rouse
Your fears or cares for how can ill arise
While watched by you possessed of eagle-eyes?
THE husband 'gan to turn it in his mind;
Thought he if present what can be designed?
The plan is such as dissipates my fears;
The offer advantageous too appears;
He's surely mad; I can't conceive his aim;
But to secure myself and wife from shame;
Without his knowledge I'll forbid the fair
Her lips to open and for this prepare.
COME cried old Aldobrandin I'll consent:
But said the other recollect 'tis meant
So distant from us all the while you stay
That not a word you hear of what I say.
Agreed rejoined the husband:--let's begin;
Away he flew and brought the lady in.
WHEN our gallant the charming belle perceived;
Elysium seemed around he half believed.
The salutations o'er they went and sat
Together in a corner where their chat
Could not be heard if they to talk inclined;
Our brisk gallant no long harangues designed
But to the point advanced without delay;
Cried he I've neither time nor place to say
What I could wish and useless 'twere to seek
Expressions that but indirectly speak
The sentiments which animate the soul;
In terms direct 'tis better state the whole.
THUS circumstanced fair lady let me pray;
To you at once my adoration pay;
No words my admiration can express;
Your charms enslave my senses I confess;
Can you suppose to answer would be wrong?
Too much good sense to you should now belong;
Had I the leisure I'd in form disclose
The tender flame with which my bosom glows;
Each horrid torment; but by Fate denied
Blessed opportunities let me not hide
While moments offer what pervades my heart
And openly avow the burning smart
Few minutes I have got to travel o'er
What gen'rally requires six months or more.
Cold is that lover who will not pursue
With ev'ry ardour beauty when in view.
But why this silence?--not a word you say!
You surely will not send me thus away!
That heav'n an angel made you none deny;
But still to what is asked you should reply.
Your husband this contrived I plainly see
Who fancies that replies were not to be
Since in our bargain they were never named;
For shuffling conduct he was ever famed;
But I'll come round him spite of all his art;
I can reply for you and from the heart
Since I can read your wishes in your eyes;
'Tis thus to say--Good sir I would advise
That you regard me not as marble cold;
Your various tournaments and actions bold
Your serenades and gen'ral conduct prove
What tender sentiments your bosom move.
YOUR fond affection constantly I praised
And quickly felt a flame within me raised;
Yet what avails?--Oh that I'll soon disclose;
Since we agree allow me to propose
Our mutual wishes we enjoy to-night;
And turn to ridicule that jealous Wight;
In short reward him for his wily fear
In watching us so very closely here.
Your garden will be quite the thing I guess;
Go thither pray and never fear success;
Depend upon it soon his country seat
Your spouse will visit:--then the hunks we'll cheat.
When plunged in sleep the grave duennas lie
Arise furred gown put on and quickly fly;
With careful steps you'll to the garden haste;
I've got a ladder ready to be placed
Against the wall which joins your neighbour's square:
I've his permission thither to repair;
'Tis better than the street:--fear naught my dove.--
Ah! dear Magnificent my fondest love;
As you desire I'll readily proceed;
My heart is your's: we fully are agreed.
'T's you who speaks and would that in my arms
Permission I had got to clasp your charms!
MAGNIFICENT (for her he now replied)
This flame you'll soon no reason have to hide
Through dread or fear of my old jealous fool
Who wisely fancies he can woman rule.
THE lover feigning rare the lady left
And grumbling much as if of hope bereft
Addressed the husband thus: you're vastly kind;
As well with no-one converse I might find;
If horses you so easily procure
You Fortune's frowns may very well endure.
Mine neighs at least but this fair image seems
Mere pretty fish; I've satisfied my schemes;
What now of precious minutes may remain
If any one desire my chance to gain
A bargain he shall have:--most cheap the prize;
The husband laughed till tears bedewed his eyes.
Said he these youths have always in their head
Some word'rous fancies; follies round them spread.
Friend from pursuit you much too soon retire:
With time we oft obtain our fond desire.
But I shall always keep a watchful eye;
Some knowing tricks methinks I yet can spy;
Howe'er the horse must now be clearly mine
And you'll the pad of course to me resign;
To you no more expense; and from to-day
Be not displeased to see me on it pray;
At ease I'll ride my country house to view;--
That very night he to the mansion flew
And our good folks immediately repaired
Where gay Magnificent no pains had spared
To get access; what passed we won't detail;
Soft scenes you'll doubtless guess should there prevail.
THE dame was lively beautiful and young;
The lover handsome finely formed and strong;
Alike enchanted with each other's charms
Three meetings were contrived without alarms;
A fair so captivating to possess
What mortal could be satisfied with less?
In golden dreams the sage duennas slept;
A female sentinel to watch was kept.
A SUMMER-HOUSE was at the garden end
Which to the pair much ease was found to lend;
Old Aldobrandin when he built the same
Ne'er fancied LOVE would in it freak and game.
In cuckoldom he took his full degrees;
The horse he daily mounted at his ease
And so delighted with his bargain seemed
Three days to prove it requisite he deemed.
The country house received him ev'ry night;
At home he never dreamed but all was right.
WHAT numbers round whom Fortune favours less;
Have got a wife but not a horse possess;
And what yet still more wond'rous may appear
Know ey'ry thing that passes with their dear.
THE EPHESIAN MATRON
[NOTE: See Chapters 111 & 112 from The Satyricon by
Petronius Arbiter. DW]
IF there's a tale more common than the rest
The one I mean to give is such confessed.
Why choose it then? you ask; at whose desire?
Hast not enough already tuned thy lyre?
What favour can thy MATRON now expect
Since novelty thou clearly dost neglect?
Besides thou'lt doubtless raise the critick's rage.
See if it looks more modern in my page.
AT Ephesus in former times once shone
A fair whose charms would dignify a throne;
And if to publick rumour credit 's due
Celestial bliss her husband with her knew.