The Scold and the Parrot

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Fable XXV

The husband thus reproved his wife:
'Who deals in slander, lives in strife.
Art thou the herald of disgrace,
Denouncing war to all thy race?
Can nothing quell thy thunder's rage,
Which spares no friend, nor sex, nor age?
That vixen tongue of yours, my dear,
Alarms our neighbours far and near.
Good gods! 'tis like a rolling river,
That murmuring flows, and flows for ever!

Ne'er tired, perpetual discord sowing!
Like fame, it gathers strength by going.'
   'Heyday!' the flippant tongue replies,
How solemn is the fool, how wise!
Is nature's choicest gift debarred?
Nay, frown not; for I will be heard.
Women of late are finely ridden,
A parrot's privilege forbidden!
You praise his talk, his squalling song;
But wives are always in the wrong.'

   Now reputations flew in pieces,
Of mothers, daughters, aunts, and nieces.
She ran the parrot's language o'er,
Bawd, hussy, drunkard, slattern, whore;
On all the sex she vents her fury,
Tries and condemns without a jury.
   At once the torrent of her words
Alarmed cat, monkey, dogs, and birds:
All join their forces to confound her;
Puss spits, the monkey chatters round her;

The yelping cur her heels assaults;
The magpie blabs out all her faults;
Poll, in the uproar, from his cage,
With this rebuke out-screamed her rage:
   'A parrot is for talking prized,
But prattling women are despised.
She who attacks another's honour,
Draws every living thing upon her.
Think, madam, when you stretch your lungs,
That all your neighbours too have tongues.

One slander must ten thousand get,
The world with interest pays the debt.'

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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