Fell sick, and was surrounded
Forthwith by comrades kind,
All pressing to assist,
Or see, their friend, at least,
And ease his anxious mind--
An irksome multitude.
'Ah, sirs!' the sick was fain to cry,
'Pray leave me here to die,
As others do, in solitude.
Pray, let your kind attentions cease,
Till death my spirit shall release.'
But comforters are not so sent:
On duty sad full long intent,
When Heaven pleased, they went:
But not without a friendly glass;
That is to say, they cropp'd the grass
And leaves which in that quarter grew,
From which the sick his pittance drew.
By kindness thus compell'd to fast,
He died for want of food at last.
The men take off no trifling dole
Who heal the body, or the soul.
Alas the times! do what we will,
They have their payment, cure or kill.
Source: Wright's translation of La Fontaine, Fable 12.6.
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