Tales and novels of Jean de La Fontaine

The Avaricious Wife and Tricking Gallant

WHO knows the world will never feel surprise,

When men are duped by artful women’s eyes;

Though death his weapon freely will unfold;

Love’s pranks, we find, are ever ruled by gold.

To vain coquettes I doubtless here allude;

But spite of arts with which they’re oft endued;

I hope to show (our honour to maintain,)

We can, among a hundred of the train,

Catch one at least, and play some cunning trick:—

For instance, take blithe Gulphar’s wily nick,

Who gained (old soldier-like) his ardent aim,

And gratis got an avaricious dame.

LOOK well at this, ye heroes of the sword,

Howe’er with wily freaks your heads be stored,

Beyond a doubt, at court I now could find,

A host of lovers of the Gulphar kind.

To Gasperin’s so often went our wight,

The wife at length became his sole delight,

Whose youth and beauty were by all confessed;

But, ‘midst these charms, such av’rice she possessed,

The warmest love was checked — a thing not rare,

In modern times at least, among the FAIR.

’Tis true, as I’ve already said, with such

Sighs naught avail, and promises not much;

Without a purse, who wishes should express,

Would vainly hope to gain a soft caress.

The god of love no other charm employs,

Then cards, and dress, and pleasure’s cheering joys;

From whose gay shops more cuckolds we behold,

Than heroes sallied from Troy’s horse of old.

BUT to our lady’s humour let’s adhere;

Sighs passed for naught: they entered not her ear;

’Twas speaking only would the charmer please,

The reader, without doubt, my meaning sees;

Gay Gulphar plainly spoke, and named a sum

A hundred pounds, she listened:— was o’ercome.

OUR wight the cash by Gasperin was lent;

And then the husband to the country went,

Without suspecting that his loving mate,

Designed with horns to ornament his pate.

THE money artful Gulphar gave the dame,

While friends were round who could observe the same;

Here, said the spark, a hundred pounds receive,

’Tis for your spouse:— the cash with you I leave.

The lady fancied what the swain had said,

Was policy, and to concealment led.

NEXT morn our belle regaled the arch gallant,

Fulfilled his promise:— and his eager want.

Day after day he followed up the game;

For cash he took, and int’rest on the same;

Good payers get, we always may conclude,

Full measure served, whatever is pursued.

WHEN Gasperin returned, our crafty wight,

Before the wife addressed her spouse at sight;

Said he the cash I’ve to your lady paid,

Not having (as I feared) required its aid;

To save mistakes, pray cross it in your book;

The lady, thunderstruck, with terror shook;

Allowed the payment; ’twas a case too clear;

In truth for character she ‘gan to fear.

But most howe’er she grudged the surplus joy,

Bestowed on such a vile, deceitful boy.

THE loss was doubtless great in ev’ry view

Around the town the wicked Gulphar flew;

In all the streets, at every house to tell,

How nicely he had trick’d the greedy belle.

To blame him useless ’twere you must allow;

The French such frolicks readily avow.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38