Tales and novels of Jean de La Fontaine

The Eel Pie

HOWEVER exquisite we BEAUTY find,

It satiates sense, and palls upon the mind:

Brown bread as well as white must be for me;

My motto ever is — VARIETY.

THAT brisk brunette, with languid, sleepy eye,

Delights my fancy; Can you tell me why?

The reason ’s plain enough:— she ‘s something new.

The other mistress, long within my view,

Though lily fair, with seraph features blessed,

No more emotion raises in my breast;

Her heart assents, while mine reluctant proves;

Whence this diversity that in us moves?

From hence it rises, to be plain and free,

My motto ever is — VARIETY.

THE same in other words, I’ve often said;

’Tis right, at times, disguise with care to spread.

The maxim’s good, and with it I agree:

My motto ever is — VARIETY.

A CERTAIN spouse the same devise had got,

Whose wife by all was thought a handsome lot.

His love, howe’er, was over very soon;

It lasted only through the honeymoon;

Possession had his passion quite destroyed;

In Hymen’s bands too oft the lover ‘s cloyed.

ONE, ‘mong his valets, had a pretty wife;

The master was himself quite full of life,

And soon the charmer to his wishes drew,

With which the husband discontented grew,

And having caught them in the very fact,

He rang his mate the changes for the act;

Sad names he called her, howsoever just,

A silly blockhead! thus to raise a dust,

For what, in ev’ry town ’s so common found;

May we worse fortune never meet around!

HE made the paramour a grave harangue

Don’t others give, said he, the poignant pang;

But ev’ry one allow to keep his own,

As God and reason oft to man have shown,

And recommended fully to observe;

You from it surely have not cause to swerve;

You cannot plead that you for beauty pine

You’ve one at home who far surpasses mine;

No longer give yourself such trouble, pray:

You, to my help-mate, too much honour pay;

Such marked attentions she can ne’er require

Let each of us, alone his own admire.

To others’ WELLs you never ought to go,

While your’s with sweets is found to overflow;

I willingly appeal to connoisseurs;

If heav’n had blessed me with such bliss as your’s,

That when I please, your lady I could take,

I would not for a queen such charms forsake.

But since we can’t prevent what now is known,

I wish, good sir, contented with your own,

(And ’tis, I hope, without offence I speak,)

You’ll favours from my wife no longer seek.

THE master, neither no nor yes replied,

But orders gave, his man they should provide;

For dinner ev’ry day, what pleased his taste,

A pie of eels, which near him should be placed.

HIS appetite at first was wond’rous great;

Again, the second time, as much he ate;

But when the third appeared, he felt disgust,

And not another morsel down could thrust.

The valet fain would try a diff’rent dish;

’Twas not allowed; — you’ve got, said they, your wish;

’Tis pie alone; you like it best you know,

And no objection you must dare to show.

I’M surfeited, cried he, ’tis far too much:

Pie ev’ry day! and nothing else to touch!

Not e’en a roasted eel, or stewed, or fried!

Dry bread I’d rather you’d for me provide.

Of your’s allow me some at any rate,

Pies, (devil take them!) thoroughly I hate;

They’ll follow me to Paradise I fear,

Or further yet; — Heav’n keep me from such cheer!

THEIR noisy mirth the master thither drew,

Who much desired the frolick to pursue;

My friend, said he, I greatly feel surprise,

That you so soon are weary grown of pies;

Have I not heard you frequently declare,

Eel-pie ’s of all, the most delicious fare?

Quite fickle, certainly, must be your taste;

Can any thing in me so strange be traced?

When I exchange a food which you admire;

You blame and say, I never ought to tire;

You do the very same; in truth, my friend,

No mark of folly ’tis, you may depend,

In lord or squire, or citizen or clown,

To change the bread that’s white for bit of brown:

With more experience, you’ll with me agree —

My motto ever is — VARIETY.

WHEN thus the master had himself expressed,

The valet presently was less distressed;

Some arguments, howe’er, at first he used;

For, after all — are fully we excused,

When we our pleasure solely have in view;

Without regarding what’s to others due?

I relish change; well, take it; but ’tis best,

To gain the belles with love of gold possessed;

And that appears to me the proper plan;

In truth, our lover very soon began

To practise this advice; — his voice and way

Could angel-sweetness instantly convey.

HIS words were always gilt; (impressive tongue!)

To gilded words will sure success belong.

In soft amours they’re ev’ry thing ’tis plain

The maxim ’s certain, and our aim will gain;

My meaning doubtless easily is seen;

A hundred times repeated this has been

Th’ impression should be made so very deep,

That I thereon can never silence keep;

And this the constant burden of my song —

To gilded words will sure success belong.

THEY easily persuade the beauteous dame;

Her dog, her maid, duenna, all the same;

The husband sometimes too, and him we’ve shown

’Twas necessary here to gain alone;

By golden eloquence his soul was lulled;

Although from ancient orators not culled:

Their books retained have nothing of the kind;

Our jealous spouse indulgent grew we find.

He followed e’en, ’tis said, the other’s plan —

And, thence his dishes to exchange began.

THE master and his fav’rite’s freaks around;

Continually the table-talk were found;

He always thought the newest face the best:

Where’er he could, each beauty he caressed;

The wife, the widow, daughter, servant-maid,

The nymph of field or town:— with all he played;

And, while he breathed, the same would always be;

His motto ever was — VARIETY.

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