'The Snake and File', an illustration by John Vernon Lord in Aesop's Fables; 1989, page 46.
The Viper and the File
A VIPER chanced his head to pop
Into a fam’d watchmaker’s shop;
Long near the place had he been lurking,
And staid till past the hours of working.
As with keen eyes he glanced around
In search of food, a file he found:
Of meats he saw no single item,
Which tempted hungry jaws to bite ’em;
So with his fangs the eager fool
Attacked the rough impassive tool;
And whilst his wounded palate bled,
Fancied on foreign gore he fed.
When thus the file retorted coolly : -
“Viper! this work’s ingenious, truly!
No more those idle efforts try;
Proof ’gainst assaults like yours am I.
On me you’d fracture ev’ry bone,
I feel the teeth of Time alone,”
Moral: We ultimately upset ourselves if we persist in arguing with those who have no feelings
Text: Mr Matthews (La Fontaine 5/16, 1820).
Selected Parallels: Phaedrus 4/8. Caxton, Romulus 3/12. L’Estrange 44. Chambry 116. Perry 93 (cf 59). TMI J552.3.
Title of book for text: Fables, Original and Selected, G. Moir Bussey, London, Charles Tilt, 1839. (page 65).
Bussey writes in his introduction (pxxvii) that ‘The excellent versions of La Fontaine’s Fables, are chiefly derived from a volume published anonymously by Mr Murray, in 1820, and are believed to be the production of Mr. Matthews’.