The Shepard and the Philosopher

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Introduction

Remote from cities lived a swain,
Unvexed with all the cares of gain;
His head was silvered o'er with age,
And long experience made him sage;
In summer's heat, and winter's cold,
He fed his flock and penned the fold;
His hours in cheerful labour flew,
Nor envy nor ambition knew:
His wisdom and his honest fame
Through all the country raised his name.

   A deep philosopher (whose rules
Of moral life were drawn from schools)
The shepherd's homely cottage sought
And thus explored his reach of thought:
   'Whence is thy learning? Hath thy toil
O'er books consumed the midnight oil?
Hast thou old Greece and Rome surveyed,
And the vast sense of Plato weighed?
Hath Socrates thy soul refined,
And hast thou fathomed Tully's mind?

Or like the wise Ulysses, thrown
By various fates, on realms unknown,
Hast thou through many cities strayed,
Their customs, laws, and manners weighed?'
   The shepherd modestly replied,
'I ne'er the paths of learning tried;
Nor have I roamed in foreign parts
To read mankind, their laws and arts;
For man is practised in disguise,
He cheats the most discerning eyes;

Who by that search shall wiser grow,
When we ourselves can never know?
The little knowledge I have gained,
Was all from simple nature drained;
Hence my life's maxims took their rise,
Hence grew my settled hate to vice.
The daily labours of the bee
Awake my soul to industry.
Who can observe the careful ant,
And not provide for future want?

My dog (the trustiest of his kind)
With gratitude inflames my mind.
I mark his true, his faithful way,
And in my service copy Tray.
In constancy and nuptial love,
I learn my duty from the dove.
The hen, who from the chilly air,
With pious wing protects her care;
And every fowl that flies at large,
Instructs me in a parent's charge.

   From nature too I take my rule,
To shun contempt and ridicule.
I never, with important air,
In conversation overbear.
Can grave and formal pass for wise,
When men the solemn owl despise?
My tongue within my lips I rein;
For who talks much, must talk in vain.
We from the wordy torrent fly:
Who listens to the chattering pye?

Nor would I, with felonious flight,
By stealth invade my neighbour's right;
Rapacious animals we hate:
Kites, hawks, and wolves deserve their fate.
Do not we just abhorrence find
Against the toad and serpent kind?
But envy, calumny, and spite,
Bear stronger venom in their bite.
Thus every object of creation
Can furnish hints to contemplation;

And from the most minute and mean,
A virtuous mind can morals glean.'
   'Thy fame is just,' the sage replies;
'Thy virtue proves thee truly wise.
Pride often guides the author's pen,
Books as affected are as men:
But he who studies nature's laws,
From certain truth his maxims draws;
And those, without our schools, suffice
To make men moral, good, and wise.'



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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