Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > Italian & Spanish
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vol. XIII: Italian—Spanish
The Bear, the Ape, and the Pig
By Tomás de Iriarte (1750–1791)
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        5
  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        10
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,        15
  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.”        20
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        25
  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:        30
The worst that can befall him is
  The approbation of a fool.

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