A Lion was disturbed by another Lion’s voice but was only an Echo of himself. A Fox pointed this out. No more fears.
Imaginary terror can seem real.
A Lion, bravest of the wood,
Whose title undisputed stood,
As o’er the wide domains he prowled,
And in pursuit of booty growled,
An Echo from a distant cave
Re-growled, articulately grave.
His Majesty, surprised, began
To think at first it was a man;
But, on reflection sage, he found
It was too like a lion’s sound.
“Whose voice is that which growls at mine?”
His Highness asked. Says Echo, “Mine!”
“Thine,” says the Lion; “who art thou?”
Echo as stern cried, “Who art thou?”
“Know I’m a lion, hear and tremble!”
Replied the king. Cried Echo, “Tremble!”
“Come forth,” says Lion, “show thyself.”
Laconic Echo answered, “Elf!”
“Elf, dost thou call me, vile pretender?”
Echo as loud replied, “Pretender!”
At this, as jealous of his reign,
He growled in rage–she growled again.
Incensed the more, he chafed and foamed,
And round the spacious forest roamed,
To find the rival of his throne,
Who durst with him dispute the crown.
A Fox, who listened all the while,
Addressed the monarch with a smile.
“My liege, most humbly I make bold,
Though truth may not be always told,
That this same phantom that you hear
That so alarms your royal ear,
Is not a rival of your throne–
The voice and fears are all your own.”
Imaginary terrors scare
A timorous soul with real fear!
Nay, e’en the wise and brave are cowed
By apprehensions from the crowd;
A frog a lion may disarm,
And yet how causeless the alarm!
[Note: The Northcote fable is the same poem as in the JBR Collection above. Only the illustration associated with the fable in the Northcote book is displayed here.]