Nor hands against the touch of gold.
Fidelity is sadly rare,
And has been from the days of old.
Well taught his appetite to check,
And do full many a handy trick,
A dog was trotting, light and quick,
His master's dinner on his neck.
A temperate, self-denying dog was he,
More than, with such a load, he liked to be.
But still he was, while many such as we
Would not have scrupled to make free.
Strange that to dogs a virtue you may teach,
Which, do your best, to men you vainly preach!
This dog of ours, thus richly fitted out,
A mastiff met, who wish'd the meat, no doubt.
To get it was less easy than he thought:
The porter laid it down and fought.
Meantime some other dogs arrive:
Such dogs are always thick enough,
And, fearing neither kick nor cuff,
Upon the public thrive.
Our hero, thus o'ermatch'd and press'd,--
The meat in danger manifest,--
Is fain to share it with the rest;
And, looking very calm and wise,
'No anger, gentlemen,' he cries:
'My morsel will myself suffice;
The rest shall be your welcome prize.'
With this, the first his charge to violate,
He snaps a mouthful from his freight.
Then follow mastiff, cur, and pup,
Till all is cleanly eaten up.
Not sparingly the party feasted,
And not a dog of all but tasted.
In some such manner men abuse
Of towns and states the revenues.
The sheriffs, aldermen, and mayor,
Come in for each a liberal share.
The strongest gives the rest example:
'Tis sport to see with what a zest
They sweep and lick the public chest
Of all its funds, however ample.
If any commonweal's defender
Should dare to say a single word,
He's shown his scruples are absurd,
And finds it easy to surrender--
Perhaps, to be the first offender.
Source: Wright's translation of La Fontaine, Fable 8.7.
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