The Two Monkeys

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Fable XL

The learned, full of inward pride,
The Fops of outward show deride:
The Fop, with learning at defiance,
Scoffs at the pedant, and the science:
The Don, a formal, solemn strutter,
Despises Monsieur's airs and flutter;
While Monsieur mocks the formal fool,
Who looks, and speaks, and walks by rule.
Britain, a medley of the twain,
As pert as France, as grave as Spain;

In fancy wiser than the rest,
Laughs at them both, of both the jest.
Is not the poet's chiming close
Censured by all the sons of prose?
While bards of quick imagination
Despise the sleepy prose narration.
Men laugh at apes, they men contemn;
For what are we, but apes to them?
   Two monkeys went to Southwark fair,
No critics had a sourer air:

They forced their way through draggled folks,
Who gaped to catch jack-pudding's jokes;
Then took their tickets for the show,
And got by chance the foremost row.
To see their grave, observing face,
Provoked a laugh throughout the place.
   'Brother,' says Pug, and turned his head,
'The rabble's monstrously ill bred.'
   Now through the booth loud hisses ran;
Nor ended till the show began.

The tumbler whirls the flap-flap round,
With somersets he shakes the ground;
The cord beneath the dancer springs;
Aloft in air the vaulter swings;
Distorted now, now prone depends,
Now through his twisted arms ascends:
The crowd, in wonder and delight,
With clapping hands applaud the sight.
   With smiles, quoth Pug, 'If pranks like these
The giant apes of reason please,

How would they wonder at our arts!
They must adore us for our parts.
High on the twig I've seen you cling;
Play, twist and turn in airy ring:
How can those clumsy things, like me,
Fly with a bound from tree to tree?
But yet, by this applause, we find
These emulators of our kind
Discern our worth, our parts regard,
Who our mean mimics thus reward.'

   'Brother,' the grinning mate replies,
'In this I grant that man is wise.
While good example they pursue,
We must allow some praise is due;
But when they strain beyond their guide,
I laugh to scorn the mimic pride,
For how fantastic is the sight,
To meet men always bolt upright,
Because we sometimes walk on two!
I hate the imitating crew.'



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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