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A Fable -- J H Frere

(Poem #1287) A Fable
 (In imitation of Dryden)

 A dingy donkey, formal and unchanged,
 Browsed in the lane and o'er the common ranged.
 Proud of his ancient asinine possessions,
 Free from the panniers of the grave professions,
 He lived at ease; and chancing once to find
 A lion's skin, the fancy took his mind
 To personate the monarch of the wood;
 And for a time the stratagem held good.
 He moved with so majestical a pace
 That bears and wolves and all the savage race
 Gazed in admiring awe, ranging aloof,
 Not over-anxious for a clearer proof --
 Longer he might have triumph'd -- but alas!
 In an unguarded hour it came to pass
 He bray'd aloud; and show'd himself an ass!

 The moral of this tale I could not guess
 Till Mr Landor sent his works to press.
-- J H Frere
The Horace quote from Monday's poem [1] was still fresh in my mind when
I came across this gem of a putdown in the Faber Book of Comic Verse.
Nothing much more to say, really.


[1] The poem was "Etiquette", by W. S. Gilbert, and the quote was
"parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus": "the mountains are in
labour; a ridiculous mouse will be born".


Today's fable dates back to Aesop:

J. H. Frere was a diplomat who lived from 1769 to 1848. More:

Mr Landor, of course, is Walter Savage Landor. Britannica says "Landor
spent a lifetime quarreling with his father, neighbours, wife, and any
authorities at hand who offended him. Paradoxically, though, he won the
friendship of literary men from Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
and Charles Lamb among the Romantics to Charles Dickens and Robert
Browning". One can assume that Mr Frere fell in the former category.

The irrepressible Dorothy Parker had this to say about Mr L:
  Upon the work of Walter Landor
  I am unfit to write with candor.
  If you can read it, well and good;
  But as for me, I never could.
          -- Dorothy Parker

And yes, he features on the Minstrels: Poem #10.

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