The Hare and many Friends

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Fable L

Friendship, like love, is but a name,
Unless to one you stint the flame.
The child, whom many fathers share,
Hath seldom known a father's care.
Tis thus in friendships; who depend
On many, rarely find a friend.
   A hare, who in a civil way,
Complied with everything, like Gay,
Was known by all the bestial train
Who haunt the wood, or graze the plain.

Her care was never to offend,
And every creature was her friend.
   As forth she went at early dawn,
To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn,
Behind she hears the hunter's cries,
And from the deep-mouthed thunder flies.
She starts, she stops, she pants for breath;
She hears the near advance of death;
She doubles to mislead the hound,
And measures back her mazy round;

Till fainting in the public way,
Half-dead with fear, she gasping lay.
What transport in her bosom grew,
When first the horse appeared in view!
   „Let me,“ says she, „your back ascend,
And owe my safety to a friend.
You know my feet betray my flight;
To friendship every burden's light.“
   The horse replied — „Poor honest puss,
It grieves my heart to see thee thus;

Be comforted, relief is near;
For all your friends are in the rear.“
   She next the stately bull implored;
And thus replied the mighty lord--
„Since every beast alive can tell
That I sincerely wish you well,
I may, without offence, pretend
To take the freedom of a friend.
Love calls me hence; a favourite cow
Expects me near yon barley mow:

And when a lady's in the case,
You know all other things give place.
To leave you thus might seem unkind;
But see, the goat is just behind.“
   The goat remarked her pulse was high,
Her languid head, her heavy eye;
„My back,“ says she, „may do you harm;
The sheep's at hand, and wool is warm.“
   The sheep was feeble, and complained
His sides a load of wool sustained:

Said he was slow, confessed his fears;
For hounds cat sheep, as well as hares.
   She now the trotting calf addressed,
To save from death a friend distressed.
   „Shall I,“ says he, „of tender age,
In this important care engage?
Older and abler passed you by;
How strong are those! how weak am I!
Should I presume to bear you hence,
Those friends of mine may take offence.

Excuse me then. You know my heart,
But dearest friends, alas! must part.
How shall we all lament! Adieu!
For see the hounds are just in view.“



The Fables, Volume 1 (1727)
Introduction The Shepard and the Philosopher
Fable I The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller
Fable II The Spaniel and the Cameleon
Fable III The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy
Fable IV The Eagle, and the Assembly of Animals
Fable V The wild Boar and the Ram
Fable VI The Miser and Plutus
Fable VII The Lion, the Fox, and the Geese
Fable VIII The Lady and the Wasp
Fable IX The Bull and the Mastiff
Fable X The Elephant and the Bookseller
Fable XI The Peacock, the Turkey, and the Goose
Fable XII Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus
Fable XIII The Tame Stag
Fable XIV The Monkey who had seen the World
Fable XV The Philosopher and the Pheasants
Fable XVI The Pin and the Needle
Fable XVII The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf
Fable XVIII The Painter who pleased Nobody and Everybody
Fable XIX The Lion and the Cub
Fable XX The Old Hen and the Cock
Fable XXI The Rat-catcher and Cats
Fable XXII The Goat without a Beard
Fable XXIII The Old Woman and her Cats
Fable XXIV The Butterfly and the Snail
Fable XXV The Scold and the Parrot
Fable XXVI The Cur and the Mastiff
Fable XXVII The Sick Man and the Angel
Fable XXVIII The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud
Fable XXIX The Fox at the point of Death
Fable XXX The Setting-dog and the Partridge
Fable XXXI The Universal Apparition
Fable XXXII The Two Owls and the Sparrow
Fable XXXIII The Courtier and Proteus
Fable XXXIV The Mastiffs
Fable XXXV The Barley-mow and the Dunghill
Fable XXXVI Pythagoras and the Countryman
Fable XXXVII The Farmer's Wife and the Raven
Fable XXXVIII The Turkey and the Ant
Fable XXXIX The Father and Jupiter
Fable XL The Two Monkeys
Fable XLI The Owl and the Farmer
Fable XLII The Jugglers
Fable XLIII The Council of Horses
Fable XLIV The Hound and the Huntsman
Fable XLV The Poet and the Rose
Fable XLVI The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog
Fable XLVII The Court of Death
Fable XLVIII The Gardener and the Hog
Fable XLIX The Man and the Flea
Fable L The Hare and many Friends
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