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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Tomás de Iriarte (1750–1791)

The Bear, the Ape, and the Pig

From “Fables”

A BEAR, whose dancing help’d to gain

His own and owner’s livelihood,

And whose success had made him vain

As any dandy, stood

Upon his hinder legs to try

The figure of a new quadrille,

When, seeing that an ape was nigh,

He stump’d about with all his skill,

And, “Tell me how you like,” he cried,

“My dancing, for I’m always glad

To hear the truth!” The ape replied,

“I really think it very bad.”

“’Tis plain enough,” rejoin’d the bear,

“That envy makes you censure so;

For have I not a graceful air,

A slender shape and limber toe?”

But here a tasteless pig began

To grunt applause, and said, “I vow

I’ve never met, in brute or man,

With one who danced so well as thou.”

The bear, on hearing this, became

Sedate and pensive for a while;

And then, as if abash’d with shame,

Replied, in a more humble style:

“The agile ape’s rebuke might be

Inspired by jealousy or spleen;

But, since the pig commends, I see

How bad my dancing must have been.”

Let every author think on this,

And hold this maxim for a rule:

The worst that can befall him is

The approbation of a fool.