A feeble lion, gouty, given o'er,
Desired some remedy for his old age.
Tell kings that remedy avails no more,
'Tis waste of words, that but excites their rage.
Ours ordered doctors in of every kind,
For skilled there are in every branch we find.
They to the lion came from their retreats,
From every side came givers of receipts.
Among the visitors to show their skill,
The fox dispensed with going, and lay still.
Hence fawned the wolf, his absent friend belied,
As the king went to bed, when quick he cried:
"He shall be stifled in his room with smoke!
First bring him here." The fox appeared and spoke,
Knowing the wolf had injured him at court:
"Sire, I'm afraid that some unfair report
May for contempt have taken my delay
Thus to condole with you, and homage pay.
I've been, dread sire, on pilgrimage by stealth,
To pay the vows I promised for your health.
Wise men and skilful met I on the way;
And your own fears from danger but too great.
Sire, all you want, they said, is heat,
Which age in you has quenched within;
Of a wolf flayed alive, then, wear the skin,
Quite hot and smoking from his body peeled;
A secret doubtless ne'er before revealed:
It gives to wasting nature life and ease.
Here good Sir Wolf will serve you, if you please,
With chamber robe so very choice."
The monarch relished the advice:
The wolf was flayed, and cut up in a trice;
Warm in his skin the king wrapt up,
Upon his body straight sat down to sup.
Cease, courtiers, cease to work each other's woe,
And while ye flatter, deal no treacherous blow:
Quadruple wrath may wait you on the throne,
Which ye think calumny has made your own.
Ye run a race, and as the swiftest choose,
Nothing is pardoned to the men that lose.