The Lion And The Ape

An Ape wanted revenge on an old Lion so at every opportunity Ape confided to the Lion how other felt. Lion was not fooled and Ape met a very nasty fate.

Idle rumors may turn out to hurt the rumor monger.


JN Fable 059

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: T. Moses (1828)

An old Lion had long been despotic sovereign of the forest, and of course accustomed to the abject homage of every inferior animal in it, as is common in courts, each trying to outdo his companions in servility. When a pert malicious Ape, who wished to give his powerful master some pain, and yet escape his rage, as he well knew it was as much as his life was worth to offend him openly, therefore sought how he might artfully mortify him under the mask of friendship, but keep out of the scrape himself, and at the same time insidiously cause the ruin of his competitors for court-favour. With this intent he lost no opportunity of obtaining private conferences with the Lion, and on all occasions was busy to inform him of what, he said, he had heard against his character and disposition, from those whom the Lion had taken to be his best friends—saying, the Fox had accused him of tyranny—the Horse had complained he was blood-thirsty—the Bull that he was selfish and cruel—and the Stag that he knew not what mercy was. At length the Lion, no longer able to suffer this artful and malignant harangue, furiously replied: “Thinkest thou, base and pitiful traitor, thus to abuse me to my face, in attributing all those crimes to me; and that thou canst escape my vengeance, by saying they are the remarks of my good and faithful subjects? No, foolish animal, take thy death for thy officious pains, and thus become of some use to others, by the terror of thy example.” So saying, he instantly crushed him to pieces.


There are some artful gossips, who take a malicious delight in tormenting their intimates, by relating every idle rumour which they have heard against them; and under a pretence of pure friendship, accompanied with the pride of offering good advice, conclude they shall escape the odium of giving pain which they deserve to incur; but the triumphs of those petty tyrants, notwithstanding all their art, turn out at last to their own hurt, for their visits are soon found to forebode our vexation, and at length we shun them as we shun disease. Those who blow the coals of others’ strife, may chance to have the sparks fly in their own face. J. N.

JN Fable 059a

Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: S. Slader (1828)