Ape became king through tricks. A Fox noticed a trap and led the Ape to it. The Ape was caught by the trap and complained. Fox: he should have known better.
Rulers should tend to business; a bad choice exposes authority to scorn.
Upon the decease of the Lion, the beasts of the forest assembled to choose another king. The Ape played so many grimaces, gambols, and antic tricks, that he was elected by a large majority, and the crown was placed upon his head. The Fox, envious of this distinction, seeing soon after a trap baited with a piece of meat, approached the new king, and said with mock humility, “May it please your majesty, I have found on your domain a treasure to which, if you will deign to accompany me, I will conduct you.” The Ape thereupon set off with the Fox, and on arriving at the spot, laid his paw upon the meat. Snap! went the trap, and caught him by the fingers. Mad with the shame and the pain, he reproached the Fox for a false thief and a traitor. Reynard laughed heartily, and going off, said over his shoulder, with a sneer, “You a king, and not understand a trap!”
Samuel Croxall (The Fox and the Ape)
ONCE upon a time, the beasts were so void of reason as to chuse an Ape for their king. He had danced and diverted them with playing antic tricks, and truly nothing must serve, but they must anoint him their sovereign. Accordingly crowned he was, and affected to look very wise and politic. But the Fox, vexed at his heart to see his fellow-brutes act so foolishly, was resolved, the first opportunity, to convince them of their sorry choice, and punish their jackanapes of a king for his presumption. Soon after, spying a trap in a ditch, which was baited with a piece of flesh, he went and informed the Ape of it, as a treasure, which being found upon the waste, belonged to his majesty only. The Ape, dreaming nothing of the matter, went very briskly to take possession; but had no sooner laid his paws upon the bait, than he was caught in the trap; where, betwixt shame and anger, he began to reproach the Fox, calling him rebel and traitor, and threatened to be revenged of him: at all which Reynard laughed heartily; and going off, added, with a sneer, You a king, and not understand trap!
A weak man should not aspire to be a king; for if he were, in the end, it would prove as inconvenient to himself, as disadvantageous to the public. To be qualified for such an office, an office of the last importance to mankind, the person should be of distinguished prudence, and most unblemished integrity; too honest to impose upon others, and too penetrating to be imposed upon; thoroughly acquainted with the laws and genius of the realm he is to govern: brave, but not passionate; good-natured, but not soft; aspiring at just esteem; despising vain glory; without superstition; without hypocrisy. When thrones have been filled by people of a different turn from this, histories show what a wretched figure they always made; what tools they were to particular persons, and what plagues to their subjects in general. They who studied their passions and entered into their foibles, led them by the nose as they pleased; and took them off from the guardianship of the public, by some paltry amusement, that themselves might have the better opportunity to rifle and plunder it.
Upon the decease of a lyon of late famous memory, the beasts met in councel to chuse a king. There were several put up; but one was not of a make for a king, another wanted either brains, or strength, or stature, or humour, or something else; but in fine, the buffoon-ape with his grimaces and gamboles, carry’d it from the whole field by I know not how many voices. The fox (being one of the pretenders) stomach’d it extremely to see the choice go against him, and presently rounds the new-elect in the ear, with a piece of secret service that he could do him. Sir, says he, I have discover’d some hidden treasure yonder: but ’tis a royalty that belongs to your majesty, and I have nothing to do with it. So he carry’d the ape to take possession: and what should this treasure be, but a bayte in a ditch. The ape lays his hand upon’t, and the trap springs and catches him by the fingers. Ah thou perfidious wretch, cryes the ape! Or thou simple prince, rather, replyes the fox. You a governour of others, with a vengeance, that han’t wit enough to look to your own fingers.
Governors should be men of bus’ness rather then pleasure. There’s one great folly in making an ill choice of a ruler, and another in the acceptance of it; for it exposes authority to scorn.