FABLE  X.
The Elephant and the Bookseller.
1 The man, who with undaunted toils
2 Sails unknown seas to unknown soils,
3 With various wonders feasts his sight:
4 What stranger wonders does he write!
5 We read, and in description view
6 Creatures which Adam never knew;[Page 33]
7 For, when we risque no contradiction,
8 It prompts the tongue to deal in fiction.
9 Those things that startle me or you,
10 I grant are strange; yet may be true.
11 Who doubts that elephants are found
12 For science and for sense renown'd?
13 Borri records their strength of parts,
14 Extent of thought, and skill in arts;
15 How they perform the law's decrees,
16 And save the state the hang-man's fees,
17 And how by travel understand
18 The language of another land.
19 Let those, who question this report,
20 To Pliny's ancient page resort.
21 How learn'd was that sagacious breed!
22 Who now (like them) the Greek can read!
23 As one of these, in days of yore,
24 Rummag'd a shop of learning o'er,[Page 34]
25 Not like our modern dealers, minding
26 Only the margin's breadth and binding;
27 A book his curious eye detains,
28 Where, with exactest care and pains,
29 Were ev'ry beast and bird portray'd,
30 That e'er the search of man survey'd.
31 Their natures and their powers were writ
32 With all the pride of human wit;
33 The page he with attention spread,
34 And thus remark'd on what he read.
35 Man with strong reason is endow'd;
36 A Beast scarce instinct is allow'd:
37 But let this author's worth be try'd,
38 'Tis plain that neither was his guide.
39 Can he discern the diff'rent natures,
40 And weigh the pow'r of other creatures,
41 Who by the partial work hath shown
42 He knows so little of his own?
43 How falsely is the spaniel drawn!
44 Did man from him first learn to fawn?[Page 35]
45 A dog proficient in the trade!
46 He, the chief flatt'rer nature made!
47 Go, man, the ways of courts discern,
48 You'll find a spaniel still might learn.
49 How can the foxe's theft and plunder
50 Provoke his censure, or his wonder?
51 From courtiers tricks, and lawyers arts
52 The fox might well improve his parts.
53 The lyon, wolf, and tyger's brood
54 He curses, for their thirst of blood;
55 But is not man to man a prey?
56 Beasts kill for hunger, men for pay.
57 The Bookseller, who heard him speak,
58 And saw him turn a page of Greek,
59 Thought, what a genius have I found!
60 Then thus addrest with bow profound.
61 Learn'd Sir, if you'd employ your pen
62 Against the senseless sons of men,
63 Or write the history of Siam,
64 No man is better pay than I am;[Page 36]
65 Or, since you're learn'd in Greek, let's see
66 Something against the Trinity.
67 When wrinkling with a sneer his trunk,
68 Friend, quoth the Elephant, you're drunk;
69 E'en keep your money, and be wise;
70 Leave man on man to criticise,
71 For that you ne'er can want a pen
72 Among the senseless sons of men,
73 They unprovok'd will court the fray,
74 Envy's a sharper spur than pay,
75 No author ever spar'd a brother,
76 Wits are game-cocks to one another.
About this text
Author: John Gay
Text view / Document view
Gay, John, 1685-1732. FABLES. By Mr. GAY. London: Printed for J. Tonson and J. Watts, MDCCXXVII., 1727, pp. 32-36. ,173,p.: ill.; 4°. (ESTC T13818)
Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.
Other works by John Gay
- [FABLE ] INTRODUCTION TO THE FABLES. The Shepherd and the Philosopher. ()
- FABLE  I. The Lyon, the Tyger, 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 Lyon, the Fox, and the Geese. ()
- FABLE  VIII. The Lady and the Wasp. ()
- FABLE  IX. The Bull and the Mastiff. ()
- FABLE  XI. The Peacock, the Turkey, and 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 No body and Every body. ()
- FABLE  XIX. The Lyon 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 Dung-hill. ()
- 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. ()