The Showman's Monkey And His Master

: Literary Fables Of Yriarte

That authentic author, Father Valdecebro,--

In his veracious Natural History,

Who exercised his warm imagination,

By spots and marks, each beast minutely painting,

And told, in style so fanciful and turgid,

About the Unicorn astounding marvels,

And to the fabulous Phoenix gave full credence,--

In his eighth book, or ninth,--which I've forgotten,--

Relates the story of a
famous Monkey.

The story ran: That it was a Monkey skilful

In thousand tricks, who served a puppet showman:

That thought one day, in absence of his master,

To ask some beasts--his own especial cronies--

To witness all his entertaining juggles.

First he played dead man; then, like Harlequin,

Danced on the rope with somerset and shuffle;

Made desperate leaps, exhibited the sword-dance,

On hands and feet alternate spun in circles;

Last, did the Prussian manual, gun on shoulder.

With these and other tricks he long amused them.

But, better yet than any,--since the evening

Had now set in, nor yet the audience wearied,--

An exhibition with the magic lanthorn

He now would give, as he had seen his master.

When, by preliminary explanation,

He fixed attention,--as is showman's custom,--

Behind the lanthorn being duly stationed,

From side to side he shoved the painted glasses,

Each scene loquaciously, the while, explaining.

The chamber was all darkened, as is usual;

But the spectators strained their eyes attentive

In vain, for none could see the brilliant wonders

Which Monkey was so volubly announcing.

All were perplexed, and soon arose suspicion

That these proceedings were but empty humbug.

The Monkey, most of all, was disconcerted;

When Master Pedro, entering unexpected,

And,--what was going on at once perceiving,--

Half laughing and half angry, said to Monkey,

"What is the use of all your endless gabble,

You fool, if you forget to light your lanthorn?"

* * * * *

Pardon my hint, ye deep and subtile writers,

Who boast to be beyond our comprehensions;

Your brains are dark as the unlighted lanthorn.