Modern Poets and Poetry of Spain/The Bear, the Monkey and the Hog





A Bear, with whom a Piedmontese
A wandering living made,
A dance he had not learn'd with ease,
On his two feet essay'd:

And, as he highly of it thought,
He to the Monkey cried,
"How's that?" who, being better taught,
"'Tis very bad," replied.

"I do believe," rejoin'd the Bear,
"You little favour show:
For have I not a graceful air,
And step with ease to go?"

A Hog, that was beside them set,
Cried, "Bravo! good!" said he;
"A better dancer never yet
I saw, and ne'er shall see."

On this the Bear, as if he turn'd
His thoughts within his mind,
With modest gesture seeming learn'd
A lesson thence to find.

"When blamed the Monkey, it was cause
Enough for doubting sad;
But when I have the hog's applause,
It must be very bad!"

As treasured gift, let authors raise
This moral from my verse:
'Tis bad, when wise ones do not praise;
But when fools do, 'tis worse.

  1. The Fables translated are numbered respectively III., VIII., XI., LIII. and LIV., in the original collection. The two first, III. and VIII., having been given by Bouterwek as specimens of Iriarte's style, without any translation, I took them for my first essays, and had already versified them, before finding Roscoe had done the same also in his translation of Sismondi, and it was subsequently to that I became aware of other similar versions. Having, however, made those translations, I have, notwithstanding the others, allowed them to remain in this work. The fable of the Two Rabbits has been selected as particularly noticed by Martinez de la Rosa, and the others almost without cause of peculiar preference. The last one contains an old but good lesson, which cannot be too frequently and earnestly repeated:—

    Ego nec studium sine divite venâ
    Nec rude quid prosit video ingenium, alterius sic
    Altera poscit opem res et conjurat amicè.