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"In the country of Calyanacataca," said Menthara, "lived a mighty hunter, named Bhairaza, or Terrible. One day he went, in search of game, into a forest on the mountains Vindhya; when, having slain a fawn, and taken it ap, he perceived a boar of tremendous size; he therefore threw the fawn on the ground, and wounded the boar with an arrow; the beast, horribly roaring, rushed upon him, and wounded him desperately, so that he fell, like a tree stricken with an axe.

“ In the meanwhile, a jackal, named Lougery, was roving in search of food; and, having perceived the fawn, the hunter, and the boar, all three dead, he said to himself, • What a noble provision is here made for me!'

“As the pains of men assail them unexpectedly, so their pleasures come in the same manner; a divine power strongly operates in both.

“. Be it so; the flesh of these three animals will sustain me a whole month, or longer.

16 A man suffices for one month; a fawn and a boar, for two; a snake, for a whole day; and then I will devour the bowstring. When the first impulse of his hunger was allayed, he said, “This flesh is not yet tender; let me taste the twisted string with which the horns of this bow are joined.' So saying, he began to gnaw it; but, in the instant when he had cut the string, the severed bow leaped forcibly up, and wounded him in the breast, so that he departed in the agonies of death. This I meant, when I cited the verse, Frugality should ever be practised, &c.

“What thou givest to distinguished men, and what thou eatest every day-that, in my opinion, is thine own wealth : whose is the remainder which thou hoardest ?

Works of Sir William Jones, vol. vi. pp. 35-37.'

· Edition 1799, 6 vols., 410.-ED.

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It was one of these books which Chosroës, the king of Persia, caused to be translated from the Sanscrit into the ancient language of his country, in the sixth century of the Christian era, sending an embassy into Hindostan expressly for that purpose.

Of the Persian book a translation was made in the time of the Calif Mansour, in the eighth century, into Arabic. This Arabic translation it is which became famous ander the title of “ The Book of Calila and Dimna, or the Fables of Bidpaï.” Calila and Dimna are the names of two jackals that figure in the history, and Bidpaï is one of the principal human interlocutors, who came to be mistaken for the author. This remarkable book was turned into verse by several of the Arabic poets, was translated into Greek, Hebrew, Latin, modern Persian, and, in the course of a few centuries, either directly or indirectly, into most of the languages of modern Europe.

Forty-one of the unadorned and disconnected fables of Æsop were also translated into Arabic at a period somewhat more recent than the Hegira, and passed by the name of the "Fables of Lokman.” Their want of poetical ornament prevented them from acquiring much popularity with the Arabians; but they became well known in Europe, as furnishing a convenient text-book in the study of Arabic.

The Hitopadesa, the fountain of poetic fables, with its innumerable translations and modifications, seems to have had the greatest charms for the Orientals. As it passed down the stream of time, version after version, the ornament and machinery outgrew the moral instruction, till it

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· An English translation from the Arabic appeared in 1819, done by the Rev. Wyndham Knatchbull. Sir William Jones says that the word Did paii signifies beloved, or favourite, physician. And he adds that the word Pilpay, which has taken the place of Bidpaii in some editions of these fables, is the result simply of a blunder in copying the word Bidpaiï from the original. La Fontaine himself uses the word Pilpay twice in his Fables, viz., in Fables XII. and XV., Book XII.-ED,


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gave birth, at last, to such works of mere amusement as the “Thousand and One Nights.”

Fable slept, with other things, in the dark ages of Europe. Abridgments took the place of the large collections, and probably occasioned the entire loss of some of them. As literature revived, fable was resuscitated. The crusades had bronght European mind in contact with the Indian works which we have already described, in their Arabic dress. Translations and imitations in the European tongues were speedily multiplied. The "Romance of the Fox," the work of Perrot de Saint Cloud, one of the most successful of these imitations, dates back to the thirteenth century. It found its way into most of the northern languages, and became a household book. It undoubtedly had great influence over the taste of succeeding ages, shedding upon the severe and satirical wit of the Greek and Roman literature the rich, mellow light of Asiatic poetry. The poets of that age were not confined, however, to fables from the Hindoo

Marie de France, also, in the thirteenth century, versified one hundred of the fables of Æsop, translating from an English collection, which does not now appear to be extant. Her work is entitled the Ysopet, or

Little Æsop.” Other versions, with the same title, were subsequently written. It was in 1447 that Planudes, already referred to, wrote in Greek prose a collection of fables, prefacing it with a life of Æsop, which, for a long time, passed for the veritable work of that ancient. In the next century, Abstemius wrote two hundred fables in Latin prose, partly of modern, but chiefly of ancient invention. At this time, the vulgar languages had undergone so great changes, that works in them of two or three centuries old could not be understood, and, consequently, the Latin became the favourite language of authors. Many collections of fables were written in it, both in prose and verse. By the art of printing these works were greatly multiplied ;



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and again the poets undertook the task of translating them into the language of the people. The French led the way in this species of literature, their language seeming to present some great advantages for it. One hundred years before La Fontaine, Corrozet, Guillaume Gueroult, and Philibert Hegemon, had written beautiful fables in verse, which it is supposed La Fontaine must have read and profited by, although they had become nearly obsolete in his time. It is a remarkable fact, that these poetical fables should so soon have been forgotten. It was soon after their appearance that the languages of Europe attained their full development; and, at this epoch, prose seems to have been universally preferred to poetry. So strong was this preference, that Ogilby, the Scotch fabulist, who had written a collection of fables in English verse, reduced them to prose on the occasion of publishing a more splendid edition in 1668. It seems to have been the settled opinion of the critics of that age, as it has, indeed, been stoutly maintained since, that the ornaments of poetry only impair the force of the fable--that the Muses, by becoming the handmaids of old Æsop, part with their own dignity without conferring any on him. La Fontaine has made such an opinion almost heretical. In his manner there is a perfect originality, and an immortality every way equal to that of the matter which he gathered up from all parts of the great storehouse of human experience. His fables are like pure gold enveloped in solid rock-crystal. In English, a few of the fables of Gay, of Moore, and of Cowper, may be compared with them in some respects, but we have nothing resembling them as a whole. Gay, who has done more than any other, though he has displayed great power of invention, and has given his verse a flow worthy of his master, Pope, has yet fallen far behind La Fontaine in the general management of his materials. His fables are all beautiful poems, but few of them are beautiful fables. His animal speakers do not

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sufficiently preserve their animal characters. It is quite difer otherwise with La Fontaine. His beasts are made most nicely to observe all the proprieties not only of the scene in which they are called to speak, but of the great drama into which they are from time to time introduced. His work constitutes an harmonious whole. To those who read it in the original, it is one of the few which never cloy the appetite. As in the poetry of Burns, you are apt to think the last verse you read of him the best.

But the main object of this Preface was to give a few traces of the life and literary career of our poet. A remarkable poet cannot but have been a remarkable man. Suppose we take a man with native benevolence amounting almost to folly ; but little cunning, caution, or veneration ; good perceptive, but better reflective faculties; and a dominant love of the beautiful ;-and toss him into the focus of civilization in the age of Louis XIV. It is an interesting problem to find out what will become of him. Such is the problem worked out in the life of JEAN DE LA FONTAINE, born on the eighth of July, 1621, at Château-Thierry. His father, a man of some substance and station, committed two blunders in disposing of his son. First, he encouraged him to seek an education for ecclesiastical life, which was evidently unsuited to his disposition. Second, he brought about his marriage with a woman who was unfitted to secure his affections, or to manage his domestic affairs. In one other point he was not so much mistaken : he laboured unremittingly to make his son a poet. Jean was a backward boy, and showed not the least spark of poetical genius till his twenty-second year. His poetical genius did not ripen till long after that time. But his father lived to see him all, and more than all, that he had ever hoped."

1 The Translator in his sixth edition replaced the next paragraph by the following remarks:-“The case is apparently, and only apparently, an exception to the old rule Poeta nascitur, orator fit—the poet is born, the

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