La Fontaine fables

The Lion, the Wolf and the Fox

the lion, the wolf and the fox

A Lion, old, and impotent with gout,
Would have some cure for age found out.
This king, from every species,—
Call’d to his aid the leeches.
They came, from quacks without degree
To doctors of the highest fee.
Advised, prescribed, talk’d learnedly;
But with the rest
Came not Sir Cunning Fox, M.D.
Sir Wolf the royal couch attended,
And his suspicions there express’d.
Forthwith his majesty, offended,
Resolved Sir Cunning Fox should come,
And sent to smoke him from his home.
He came, was duly usher’d in,
And, knowing where Sir Wolf had been,
Said, “Sire, abused your royal ear
Has been by rumours insincere;
To wit, that I’ve been self-exempt
From coming here, through sheer contempt.
But, sire, your royal health to aid,
I vow’d to make a pilgrimage,
And, on my way, met doctors sage,
In skill the wonder of the age,
Whom carefully I did consult
About that great debility
Term’d in the books senility,
Of which you fear, with reason, the result.
You lack, they say, the vital heat,
By age extreme become effete.
Drawn from a living wolf, the hide
Should warm and smoking be applied.
Sir Wolf, here, won’t refuse to give
His hide to cure you, as I live.”
The king was pleased with this advice.
Flay’d, jointed, served up in a trice,
Sir Wolf first wrapped the monarch up,
Then furnish’d him whereon to sup.
Beware, ye courtiers, lest ye gain,
By slander’s arts, less power than pain.

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