The Elephant and the Bookseller

Moral: No Moral. Suggest us a moral of this fable in comment section.
The traveller whose undaunted soul
Sails o’er the seas from pole to pole
Sees many wonders, which become
So wonderful they strike one dumb,
When we in their description view
Monsters which Adam never knew.
Yet, on the other hand, the sceptic
Supplies his moral antiseptic;
Denying unto truths belief,
With groans which give his ears relief:
But truth is stranger far than fiction,
And outlives sceptic contradiction.
Read Pliny or old Aldrovandus,
If—they would say—you understand us.
Let other monsters stand avaunt,
And read we of the elephant.
As one of these, in days of yore,
Rummaged a stall of antique lore
Of parchment rolls—not modern binding—
He found a roll; the which unwinding,
He saw all birds and beasts portrayed
Which Nature’s bounteous hand had made,
With forms and sentiments, to wit—
All by the hand of man down writ.
The elephant, with great attention,
Remarked upon that great invention:
“Man is endowed with reason; beasts
Allowed their instinct—that at least:
But here’s an author owning neither—
No reason and no instinct either:
He thinks he has all natures known,
And yet he does not know his own.
Now here’s the spaniel—who is drawn
The master spirit sprung to fawn.
Pooh, pooh! a courtier in his calling
Must fawn more deeply for enthralling.
Now there’s the fox—his attribute
To plunder—as we say, ‘to loot.’
Pooh, pooh! a lawyer at that vice
Would outfox Reynard in a trice.
Then come the wolf and tiger’s brood;
He bans them for their gust of blood.
Pooh, pooh! he bloodier is than they;
They slay for hunger—he for pay.”
A publisher, who heard him speak,
And saw him read Parsee and Greek,
Thought he had found a prize: “Dear sir,
If you against mankind will stir,
And write upon the wrongs of Siam,
No man is better pay than I am;
Or, since ’tis plain that you know true Greek,
To make an onslaught on the rubrick.”
Twisting his trunk up like a wipsy,
“Friend,” said the elephant, “you’re tipsy:
Put up your purse again—be wise;
Leave man mankind to criticise.
Be sure you ne’er will lack a pen
Amidst the bustling sons of men;
For, like to game cocks and such cattle,
Authors run unprovoked to battle,
And never cease to fight and fray them
Whilst there’s a publisher to pay them.”

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