The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog

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Fable XLVI

The lad of all-sufficient merit,
With modesty ne'er damps his spirit;
Presuming on his own deserts,
On all alike his tongue exerts;
His noisy jokes at random throws,
And pertly spatters friends and foes;
In wit and war the bully race
Contribute to their own disgrace.
Too late the forward youth shall find
That jokes are sometimes paid in kind;

Or if they canker in the breast,
He makes a foe who makes a jest.
   A village-cur, of snappish race,
The pertest puppy of the place,
Imagined that his treble throat
Was blest with music's sweetest note:
In the mid road he basking lay,
The yelping nuisance of the way;
For not a creature passed along,
But had a sample of his song.

   Soon as the trotting steed he hears,
He starts, he cocks his dapper ears;
Away he scours, assaults his hoof;
Now near him snarls, now barks aloof;
With shrill impertinence attends;
Nor leaves him till the village ends.
   It chanced, upon his evil day,
A pad came pacing down the way:
The cur, with never-ceasing tongue,
Upon the passing traveller sprung.

The horse, from scorn provoked to ire,
Flung backward; rolling in the mire,
The puppy howled, and bleeding lay;
The pad in peace pursued the way.
   A shepherd's dog, who saw the deed,
Detesting the vexatious breed,
Bespoke him thus: 'When coxcombs prate,
They kindle wrath, contempt, or hate;
Thy teasing tongue had judgment tied,
Thou hadst not, like a puppy, died.'


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