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Following the initial email, you will be contacted by the shop to confirm that your item is available for collection. Call us on or send us an email at. Unfortunately there has been a problem with your order. Please try again or alternatively you can contact your chosen shop on or send us an email at. Though of a thoroughly indolent character, Kriloff was capable of energy for a special purpose. In his fifty-first year, with a grammar and a dictionary, he mastered the Greek language so as to read it with ease. He was given to whims : at any hour of the night he would dress and be off to a fire, whatever the distance ; a juggler's skill having once much impressed him, he bought a supply of balls, and, shutting himself up for a fortnight, taught himself to keep up an ever-changing wreath round his head.
The classification of the fables already given will enable me to shorten my. In the little which I shall here say of Kriloff's fables, I must beg my readers to bear in mind that it is intended for what they are in Russian, their value in English being a very different question, which, declining to raise, I leave to the public. Those who take the trouble to look at the chronological list, and to compare it with the preceding biography, will no doubt perceive that Kriloff began by translating from La Fontaine, and gradually gained confidence in his own powers as an original writer.
Again, the tables showing the sources of the borrowed fables, compared with the chronological list, will show that in , in his fifty-first year, in consequence of the study of Greek mentioned in the biography, he began to take fables direct from Esop. The notes to the various fables will, I hope, have shown, and still more clearly the fables themselves, what I have felt fully justified in insisting on all through, his vast superiority over La Fontaine.
Kriloff wrote in all one hundred and two fables, and that is a small number if we consider that he wrote during thirty years ; but his laziness has been mentioned, and the chronological list will show not a few years in which he produced nothing. There is a grand and sounding rhythm of just indigna- tion, well sustained by the full and lengthened measure, in "The Writer and the Robber" No.
There is a fund of quiet and cutting humour in such fables as "The Cat and the Cook" No. There is a depth of poetical feeling, a choice of expression, and a lively happiness of verse, which are absolutely inimitable, in " The Pond and the River" No. There is a playful ease of versifica- tion and a finished elegance in his "Flowers" No. In nearly all his fables, instead of a dry moral coldly told, we have an animated and natural dialogue, and a mass of them are clenched, like bis "Ass" No. Sometimes the moral precedes, as in "The Boy and the Worm" No.
Kriloff's dialogue seems to me the most characteristic trait of all, and it is always simple and intensely idiomatic. He never hesitates to use plain language where the subject requires it, his "Swine" No. The fables on education, charity, and friendship are examples of his tendency to dwell on different aspects of the same question, and those on pedantry and learning and on critics are further examples of this. As instances of his powers of description, I would refer to the nightin- gale's song in No.
The fables which I have given as illustrative of his character need no commentary. I will only refer to " The Sack " No. Notwithstanding that many of Kriloff's fables are very long, and that very few are ever very short, I do not fear to claim for him the merit of brevity in exposition and conciseness of expression. It will be found, except per- haps in "The Roach" No.
A striking instance of the power which this direct- ness gives his style, is to be found in " The Peasant and the Sheep" No. His images are always admirably suited to their purpose, as the closing comparison of "The Bluebell" No. But I must close these allusions, for I am involuntarily falling into the very fault which I wished to avoid, and feel that I am furnishing too many arms against myself, and I will close by saying that the originality of Kriloff will at least be apparent, if his other qualities disappear in translation, that he has "hit the nail on the head" so exactlyjn a.
Kriloff is beyond all question as national as he is original, and he is the crowned king of the fabulists of all languages. XEbe Cbest. It often happens that our brains We rack, and take most wondrous pains When we need only try a guess, And use the simplest means to win success.
A new-made Chest was home to the buyer brought, And each that saw it cried, " A work of finished neatness! Into the room a knowing locksmith came ; He gave it but a thought, And swore it was a Chest made with a secret spring : " Just so, no lock ; I'll open it all the same : I think I ought to know this sort of thing! Meanwhile the lookers-on begin To laugh, and whisper that he'd best give in ; Not he, he puffs, and pants, and fills each ear With " 'Tis not there, not so, not here. A man invited once his neighbour To dine with him, but really sought, As he to music gave up every thought, To show his troop of singers well could labour.
The choir struck up ; some high, some low, Some shouting from a full-pitched throat. The guest's ears cracked, and every note His head made giddy like a blow. Thy choir Bawl rubbish to their hearts' desire! For my part, I say : rather drink, and show That that, which you profess, you know. Gogol says that Kriloff knew well, that a man of capacity could be easily led to a reasonable and moderate life, but felt deeply the many instances he saw around him of men pretending to what they were utterly wanting in.
TLbe Ibermit anb tbe Bear. Although a service is, when needed, dear to all, The way to render one but few men know ; May none of us into a fool's hands fall! More dangerous an officious friend than e'en a mortal foe. A lonely kinless man once lived, apart From cities, in a forest deep, Whatever praise a hermit's life may reap, Loneliness does not suit full many a heart, Our joys and sorrows sweet it is to share.
You'll say : " But then, the mead, the forest's gloom, The hills and streams, the verdure and the bloom? But all in time will tire, with no one whom To speak a word to. So off he sets into the woods, to find Some one with whom he can acquaintance make, Whom with him to his hut he'll take, That is not of the bear or wolfish kind. It happens, though, that a great Bear he meets. What was there to be done? To lift His hat politely to the Bear, who greets Him with extended paw.
They make a shift In this way to be introduced, And then make friends So fast, they cannot be induced To part, or think that friendship ever ends. What all these days, which they together passed While this their friendship happily did last, They talked about, if they beguiled the way With tales, or let their conversation rim Into some anecdote or racy fun, Up to this time I cannot say. The Hermit oftenest was mute, And Bruin born a silent brute ; So that their dirty wash at home was done. But let that pass, the Hermit's greatest pleasure Was that God gave him in his friend a treasure. Bruin he'd stand by, without Bruin pined, Nor could he praise his Bruin to his mind.
One hot day out the two friends went, On wandering through meads and groves intent, O'er dales and many a hill ; And, as with bears in strength man matches ill. This seeing, Bruin spoke thus to his friend : " Lie down a while, and take some rest, And if thou sleep, it may be best ; And I my time in guarding thee will spend. Meanwhile the sentinel was not at ease ; A fly the sleeper's nose did tease ; His paw swept o'er the face ; He looked, — another place — 'Twas near the neck ; driven off with blow the third, Again it settled on the nose ; And thus kept on for hours, escaping from all blows.
At last poor Bruin, without a single word, Seized in his massive paw a great rough stone, Sat on his hams, and, hardly drawing breath, Thought to himself — ' ' I'll have thee, meddler,'sdeath!
Full text of "Kriloff's original fables;"
The blow was deftly aimed, the skull was smashed, And Bruin's friend for long did lie there all alone. The idea of killing the man while driving off the fly, and the moral attached to it, is common to the original, La Fontaine, and Kriloff, but all the circum- stances of the action, and the way of telling it, are Kriloff 's own. Fontaine's " L'Ours et l'Amateur des Jardins," the added life and humour given to it by the Russian fabulist will, I think, be seen. The character and lonely life of the Hermit is much more in keeping with the story than the politeness of La Fontaine's Gardener.
Again, La Fontaine supposes the man to be frightened, and to dissimulate his fear, while Kriloff treats the strange friendship as if it were a natural thing. A wooden god stood once within an ancient fane, And all his answers showed prophetic inspiration ; His wisdom gave good counsel to the nation, His services were rendered not in vain, For all his robes, by those to him beholden, Were made one mass of silver, where not golden : Deafened with prayers, half stifled with the scent Of sacrifice, the god beneath his offerings bent.
But when a fool got in, it was no go, The Idol to a goose could not say " Bo! Amid the light and freshness of the sky, One early morn, An Eagle flew on high To where the lightnings of the gods are born, And sailing down, from out the clouds alighted Upon a fence, which from on high he'd sighted, And where some hens were sitting in their yard.
Why he had chosen it to say is hard, A seat ill-suited to the kingly bird, But kings have their caprices, as we've heard : Perhaps no fitter seat was there, No oak, nor rock with summit bare ; Perhaps an honour to the Hens designed : Whate'er it was that moved his mind, He sat not long, but thence Flew to another fence.
A draggled Hen, who sat there hatching eggs, , Watching the Eagle, of her neighbour begs, She'll tell her why eagles such honours get. They've got No more than we in legs and eyes, my dear! And here, upon this very spot, Thou'st seen the proof that they like Fowls fly low.
Zbz jflS anb tbe travellers. One hottest afternoon of hot July, Through clouds of dust, four horses try A coach with luggage, in which sat A Nobleman and Family in chat, Uphill to drag. The coach, however, heavily was loaded, So that the horses, on the traces straining, On the steep hill but inch by inch were gaining. A Fly came there by chance. How not distress to aid? It sets to work, and — buzzes a master of its trade! Against the trunks and bundles knocks ; Now the bay horse it worries on the nose, Now o'er the brown one's forehead biting goes ; And in the Coachman's stead alights upon the box ; Or else, abandoning the horses, Among the travellers hither and thither courses ; 'Tis busy as a dealer at a fair, And but of this complains ; That none, despite its pains, To help doth care.
On foot and talking nonsense the Servants follow after ; The Tutor with the Lady keeps up a whispered laughter ; The Nobleman himself, not thinking he's required, To seek for mushrooms with the Maid hath to the wood retired ; The Fly, in each ear buzzing, doth hum to each that she, And she alone, has tried to set them free.
Meanwhile the horses step by step have dragged their load A little higher up, unto a level road. And I may have some rest from labour passed : My wings will hardly lift me from the ground. The humorous turns of Kriloff, if they have not been quite lost in the translation, will be sought in vain in the French writer. Zbc Elepbant in dominant. A man of influence and rank, Whose mind's a blank, The softness of his heart will find but few to thank, That only makes the matter worse.
An Elephant was once, in high command, Placed o'er the forests of a woody land. He soon had given him a brief Petition from the sheep, who prayed for aid : " The wolves them daily without mercy flayed. Who gave you leave to rob in this free clime? In the winter thou didst give Leave to us wolves the sheep to school, And take from them light tribute of their wool, That we throughout the cold might warmer live. In none will I injustice bear ; Their skins they well may do without ; But, beyond that don't touch of them a hair.
The wolves are the Tchinovnicks, and the sheep the peasants. The kind of good-natured fool described in the Elephant certainly was, and perhaps still is, too common among Russians in high command. An Elephant was led along the streets To join a wild-beast show, And, as such sights with us one rarely meets, Following a mob of gaping idlers go.
By chance a Pug-dog met them on the way. Seeing the Elephant, he round it ran, To bark and howl and jump at it began, As if to fight in mortal fray. Art thou a match for him? See, thou art hoarse already with thy whim, While he doth step on free from care, All unaware That thou art barking by his side.
Ubc Sacfe. Within a hall, upon the floor, Into a corner swept, A Sack lay, long neglected ; The feet of all the servants left Their wet marks on its back ; When, crack! Its use was suddenly detected ; Promoted now to honours high, 'Twas filled with golden coin, And made to join The riches of a strongbox long laid by. The master now himself doth care, That on it neither dare The wind to blow, nor any fly to sit ; And, what is more, the entire town Has seen and talks of it.
No sooner has a guest sat down, Than of his Sack the host will smiling speak ; And, if he once the strings untie, Then each that peeps a tear has in his eye ; And e'en the one most shy To touch or pat it tenderly will seek. Of all he judges and disposes : This will not pass ; That one's an ass ; And everywhere some ill he noses. His listeners stand around with mouths agape ; Although his lips such rubbish shape, That all their ears should burn : One of man's vices is that he will hold Sacred, and bow before what's backed by gold, Though to absurdity it plainly turn.
But, long upon our Sack did fame and honours pour? Long did the petting last? The gold within it melted all too fast ; And then, 'twas thrown aside nor heard of more. None to offend we wish with this our fable : But in the world of high finance, Such Money-bags to meet we often chance, That once served in a beer-house or a stable ; Or else a gang of sharpers left, To earn a shilling quite unable ; Yet who, by thrift or theft, The Lord knows which, have wondrous wealth collected, — By dukes, ay, princes now respected — Who play with each grandee, Whose lackey once they dared not hope to be, A friendly game at whist, — A grand thing and thrice blessed, you see, To hold a million in each dirty fist!
For once you're ruined, — God forbid it, though! You're tossed" aside with other emptied Sacks! With care we must select our friends, Under the mask of friendship selfish ends Dig but a pit beneath our feet, This truth a fable here to thee commends, Look that its warning thou dost docile greet. A Fire in winter smouldered in a Grove : Some careless visitors had left it there. From hour to hour still less and less it throve ; No wood to feed it, for the Grove was bare.
The dying Fire, seeing his end draw near, Addressed the Grove : "Tell me, my dear, How is it fate hath thee bereft Of all, not one leaf on thy branches left, In nakedness condemned to freeze? Thyself about it, on thy friend rely ; In him the rival of the sun behold, For in the depths of winter cold He works no greater miracles than I! Ask in the hothouses what fire can give : While winter's storms and sleet are in the air, The flowers blossom and fruits ripen there, And 'tis through me alone they live! I am not one of those that love self-praise ; The song of boasting I could never raise ; But to the sun in strength I yield no jot.
Brightly his rays have played upon this spot, And yet the snow's unharmed at his decline, But melts around me rapidly at mine. If, then, thou wouldst in winter still be green, As in the summer or the springtide scene, Give up to me some quiet nook. No wonder thus it ends ; For how can wood and fire be ever friends? One spring a Market Gardener dug round His beds, as well as if he sought a treasure ; Of vigorous look, so fresh and sound One saw that work to him was pleasure ; And he with cucumbers had laid out half his ground. Beside his plot lived one, who loved to measure All details that to gardening belong, With florid wordiness, in would-be learned scales ; He had enjoyed the titles long — Of nature's helper when she ails, Of a Philosopher that ne'er went wrong ; 'Twas whispered, though, That no diploma could he show, And that, in talking of a garden and its use, He made of what he read a sad abuse.
At length, to put in practice what he taught, Of raising cucumbers he thought, And while about it laughed thus at his neighbour : " Goodman, 'tis vain for you to sweat ; To leave you long behind I'll bet, With this my labour ; Your garden, with my own close by, Like waste land soon will strike the eye. Yes, to speak truth, I can't believe my sight, To see this ground of yours kept somehow going. How is't you are not ruined quite, Having no science got to keep you right? I've sown and planted something here and there ; But you your beds have not dug out. What then? There's time enough on hand.
Then our Philosopher walked home, to fret, Read up, write out ; inquiries made ; And, digging into bed and book, No rest from morn to evening took. And what then was the end? The Gardener's cucumbers to ripeness grew, And, as he well deserved, his pocket too ; But, our poor friend Of philosophic mind Had not one cucumber of any kind. There has always been a party inclined to accuse Kriloff of neglecting science, and of a tendency to sneer at the learned.
The two best authorities, Kenevitch and Pletneff. Kriloff's point of view was always that of the critic and satirist, and therefore in dwelling on the evil effects of pedantry in learning, of presumption and excess in philosophy, and of ill-matured enthusiasm in science, not grounded on ade- quate knowledge, as he so often does, he is true to his mission, and by no means guilty, as he has been said to be, of setting himself blindly against all innovations.
He welcomed with enthusiasm the idea of freeing the Serfs, and was always the firm defender of Poushkin, though, as he himself belonged to the old classical school of litera- ture, Poushkin must have seemed to him an innovator. That the present fable does not attack science or true learning is. Wielding a long sharp switch, a peasant Once drove in haste some Geese to town for sale, And, truly to recount my tale, His cackling flock scarce found him pleasant ; The market only he'd in view, And, where the pocket is in danger, Not only geese fare worse, but friend or stranger.
The peasant I don't blame, do you? But our poor Geese on that point otherwise commented, And meeting with a traveller by the way, To him their sad lot thus lamented : "What geese unhappier are than we to-day? That peasant is a scurvy master, And drives us, just like simple geese, still faster, faster j It enters not the head of that dull clown, That he might somewhat knuckle under Before descendants of the geese that once saved Rome's great town.
Flower Fables: A Fiction and Literature Classic By Louisa May Alcott! AAA+++
XLbc Hss anfc tbe IFlfgbtingale. An Ass once saw a Nightingale, And thus to her he spoke : "I've heard, friend, of thy singing, So masterful that all the land with it is ringing! Be sure, I could not fail At once to see if they have told me truly ; Let me then hear, that I may judge thee duly! Ran thither, while the winds kept still to hear ; The shepherd, hardly breathing, listened quite beguiled, And, as he looked upon his love, in fear A trill were lost, he only smiled. The singer ceased. The Ass, with head to ground, Says : " That's not bad, I'll dare to say Thy singing passes in a simple way ; A pity, though, thou'st never found A time to hear what notes our cock can sound : Thou wouldst have been so much the gainer, To have learned from him an art, though high, yet plainer.
And God deliver us from judges such as these! He answered at the moment, "Because I am unable to do so," and later with this fable. Xlbe Xeaves anb tbe IRoots. One pleasant summer's day The while a dale in shadow lay, Unto the zephyr whispered the leaves upon a tree, Their density and greenness boasting of with pride, And thus their babble went : " You, surely, can't but see That w e alone adorn this laughing valley's side? What's left to it without us? Showing Such claims, no sin in us ourselves to praise!
Is it not we the shade who raise By which the shepherd and the wanderer are protected? Not we, whose beauty to the dance Hath hither oft the shepherdess directed? When tints the sky the sun's first latest glance, Then pipes for us the nightingale! And zephyr, thou scarce quittest The friends round whom thou gently flittest! Who then are you, that wail And impudently claim our peers to be? You, surely, can't but know The Roots whose tree upon you deign to blow!
Then, flaunt you while you may! Bethink you, though, at times this difference to weigh : That each new spring doth see the tree's leaves fresh created; But, let the Roots dry up, by rain unsated, — You and the tree have lived your day. Kriloff, though sym- pathizing generally with the old Conservative party, raised his voice in favour of freedom. XCbe THtmouse. Throughout the world all hear it, all admire. Fear seized the dwellers in the watery regions ; The birds flocked there in legions ; And beasts rushed from the forests to the spot, To see the ocean burn, and watch it getting hot.
The crowds assembled stand, with wide eyes gazing In silence on the sea : it should be blazing ; It only murmurs still ; " There, it is boiling, soon the bright flames will Burst forth. How ended, then, the plan benign? Our Titmouse took her flight unto the skies, Covered with shame ; The sea remained unburnt, but she earned fame. Ube Sfcuartett. They got their notes; two fiddles, flute, and bass, And on a grass plot sat, under some limes, Fain to enchant the world with skill and grace ; But how they struck up can't be told in rhymes.
Your music ends in riot, Because you all are seated wrong : Thou Bruin, seat thee with thy bass Before the flute there, face to face! And thou, good second fiddler, take thy place 'Gainst this, which doth to me as first belong! Our music now will go apace, Rousing the woods and mountains into song!
Now worse than ever quarrel they, disputing, And refuting The place of each. It happened that a Nightingale their noise did reach ; She flew to them : they asked her to decide, " Have patience here with us a space,'' they cried, " Set our quartett in order, that we may These notes and instruments correctly play ; Above all show us how to sit! This separation merely led to a useless multiplication of Secretaries and Presidents, and in no way advanced the work of the society. According to others, the fable alludes to a similar division of the labours of the Council of State, and the disputes of the leaders about their titles and precedence.
Kenevitch con- siders either explanation equally applicable. XCbe peasant in Distress. Into a Peasant's yard there crept One autumn night a thief, while slept All round. He got into the poor man's store, And all he found, Whether on wall or ceiling, shelf or floor, He without conscience stole : For where is conscience in a robber's soul? And thus, our Peasant, who went rich to bed, So naked rose, that well he might With wallet beg his -way from morn to night ; May no one from his pillow more so sadly lift his head!
The Peasant moans and groans in his distress, Calls round him all his friends, For relatives and neighbours sends, And asks them all to help him out of this fatal mess, To this doth each himself address, And gives him counsel wise. Old Stephen lifts up hands and eyes, Saying : " Why didst thou boast the village through, That thou wast rich? That distant was the store, But that our friend here kept no more A couple of surly dogs the house to guard.
Accept two pups, George, then from me, — Judy has still got three : My heart indeed were hard, Did I not with a neighbour gladly share, Rather than drown the useless pair. And so it is in life : once that you fall to need, Go, try your friends all round! You'll get advice of all kinds, bad and sound ; But, only hint at help that tries their greed, And unto this you'll surely come — - The best of friends is deaf and dumb! A Wolf, his Cub to teach, by slow degrees, Their old hereditary trade, Sends him to roam along the wold and glade, Enjoining him to take good notes, where'er he sees A chance for them their luck to try, Regardless of the sin, If only they get in To lunch or sup unseen by shepherd's eye.
Our dinner's ready : there's no risk, no bother : Behind that hill Are grazing sheep, one fatter than the other ; We only need to choose and kill, Then eat our fill; A flock like that is difficult to count. Follow, I'll lead thee where our skins are less In danger ; I to thee a fold will show Where, though the dogs are numerous, I know The shepherd for a great fool passes ; For, when a shepherd is a fool, his dogs are asses. For instance, " As the priest is, so is the parish. Labour as best you may ; Your work no praise shall pay, No gratitude, no fame, no well-earned leisure, Unless it profit bring to some, to others pleasure.
A peasant with the dawn his plough Took out into a field to work ; Labour he was not one to shirk, And soon the sweat in streams dropped off his brow. As all his neighbours did allow Him honest and good-natured too, Of passers-by there were but few Did not salute with thanks for service done. An Ape, who heard it, was to envy wrought, — For praise is sweet, by most of us is sought — And swore his labours now should be begun.
He found a log : his aim was won — To work he sets, And frets, Up to his ears in trouble : The log in air he lifts, Now shoves, now shifts, Now rolls, now tries to bend it double : The sweat pours down like rain ; He stands then gasping ; yet, 'tis all in vain, No praise doth softly at his ear-drum tap. And 'tis no wonder, my laborious swain! Such useless labours are not worth a rap! The Mice once formed a plan to gain great reputation, And, in despite of cats, or toms or pussies, To turn the heads of cooks and household hussies, Rousing a chorus of general admiration, From cellar up to garret, of their nation ; And to this end a Council they did call, In which a seat to those should only fall Whose tails were long as they themselves were tall : Having observed that Mice with tails than others longer Were wiser, stronger, And far more agile than the rest.
We won't stop now to ask if this were wise ; When we ourselves of wisdom judge, we've often eyes But for a coat, or beard at best. Suffice it may that, by unanimous consent, All long-tailed brothers of the race were members named ; But none whose tails unhappily were maimed, E'en though in heat of battle off them rent ; This was a sign that they'd behaved them sadly, Or that their heads were furnished badly ; So that of such the Council had not one, Nor to its dignity would injury be done.
Each in his place appointed sat, And lo, among them was, without his tail, a rat! Observing this, a young Mouse nudged an old And grey one squatted near, And said : " By what chance here Got in a tailless one? He's over bold, Thus at the law we've made to scoff : Let's give our votes, and send him packing off!
Thou knowest how the race that tails want love us not ; And is it likely he to us can be of use Who could not his own tail from shame keep and abuse? Through him shelves, holes, and larder, we're all one ruined lot! Efforts have undoubtedly been made of late to purify the administra- tion from this and other abuses, and the palace influence is now unsparingly exerted against them, but it is difficult to root out abuses to which a nation has so long been accustomed, and it must be a work of time. The fearless way in which Kriloff, here and elsewhere, makes his meaning plain, is remarkable at a time when the censor- ship was so powerful and vigilant, and it should be remembered that the mass of KrilofFs fables were read by himself to the Imperial Family.
Unto the monarch of the woods a son was born. The nature of wild beasts, of course, you know ; With them 'tis not as 'tis with us : their yearlings scorn Already to be swaddled, While ours are coddled Long after they a year can show ; And e'en our babes imperial are all Not the less stupid, weak, and small. Therefore, before the year was put, the lion-sire In sober earnest thought, 'twas fit That after him no fool should sit Upon his throne, to drag into the mire The honour of his kingly name, And, that his people ne'er should blame The father in the son, he'd best inquire Whom he should force, or take on hire, To teach and turn the prince into a king.
Give him unto the fox? The fox is wise, But then, unhappily, be always lies, And liars come to grief, a thing That surely should not upon kingship wait. A mole, the lion thought, might aid the state, Moles are reputed to love order well! But one mistake : their eyes beneath their noses Are more than keen, But, in the distance, no one e'en supposes That by them anything is seen ; Thus, as to order moles are never wrong, Yet only in the things which unto moles belong ; However, it is clear, A lion's realm has many a bigger hole Than any into which but creeps a mole.
The panther, though, is here, And he is known to be both strong and bold ; And besides that a great tactician he ; Yes, but the panther cannot hold His own in politics, nor can he see The meaning of a civil right : How can he, then, good lessons give to use a sovereign's might? Kings should be ministers, in peace or war Judges or leaders fit ; But panthers still from this are far, Given to throat-cutting to wit ; A talent that doth hardly hit What in the tutor of a royal cub is most required. In short : the beasts, and e'en the most admired, Up to the elephant, whose mind Throughout the forest world they find Mighty as that of Plato once, To the lion seemed to wisdom blind, To want all learning of a better kind, The best of them a dunce.
His burden off the lion's shoulders rolled, As soon as he was told A king the prince to tutor was at hand ; What could he wish for more? The cub, equipped with ample store, Was sent at once off to a rock-bound land, By the eagle to be taught to rule. A year goes by, another; and all the while but praise Of the lion-cub is heard, and of his royal school ; The birds a song of triumph over his wonders raise. At last the appointed term is out ; The lion for his son hath sent ; The son appears : at once each royal scout Unto the people went, To call them to the audience of their king, Both great and small.
Thou, that my sole successor art! I look already toward the grave, while thou Beginnest but to live ; To thee my sceptre I rejoice to give. Tell me, before my subjects now, What have thy studies been, and how To make thy people happy, thou dost hope. Then will I teach the beasts the need Of building each a nest. The emperor's tutor was one La Harpe from Geneva, who gave him liberal but unpractical ideas. Undoubtedly Alexander intended to lay down a constitution for which the country was unfitted, but Kriloff, belonging to the old Conservative party, is unjust in his exaggeration, as we shall see him afterwards unjust to the mam who was the right hand of Alexander in these meditated reforms, cut short by the war with Napoleon, to Speransky.
The party that held to the system of Catherine II. Many of Alexander's plans have since been carried out ; the codification of the law was accomplished by his suc- cessor Nicholas, and the late Emperor, Alexander II. Zbc Swfne. Over a squire's grounds by chance a Swine once strolled : The dunghill and the dustbin saw him grubbing ; The stable-walls and kitchen got a scrubbing To ease his itch ; Into each pool of filth, till sick of it, he rolled, Up to his ears with every wallowing pitch ; Till home, bespotted, A very swine of swine he trotted.
I saw no sign of all the wealth that awed thee, Dunghills and filth alone stopped up the way ; And, if I'm right, unsparing of my snout, I routed out The whole backyard to-day. But, how not say a critic is a swine, Who, whatsoe'er he judge, in every line Has but the gift of seeing all that's bad. Does culture profit bring to all? It does, we cannot doubt it ; But if so, why do we so often call Vicious corruption culture, as we fall In luxury's net, now seldom found without it?
A truth like this might fill With gravest details books on books, and still Be half untold : But grave discourse doth suit not every mind, So let me find The same truth in a joking fable old.
A country boor, simple as such boors are, Once found a Ducat on the ground, With mud and dust all stained, the Ducat far From looked its price : A passer-by, who thought it sound, Offered a shilling for it twice. The boor, who thought the man would take him in, Scratching his head, as if he ought to win The double, said " Not if I know it,'' Meaning to his strong arm to owe it.
Away he went, got chalk and sand, And scraped to dust a brick. For like a red-hot coal he meant To make it shine and glow. He worked out his intent, Like to live embers did the Ducat show, Only his labour he had cause to rue, — The Ducat's weight had gone, its value too. The good these measures did cannot be doubted.
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Even in the midst of the terrible Moscow campaign, fifty-one new schools were opened. At the same time, however, the inspiration of the time came from the new French ideas, and Russia was overrun with a mass of foreign teachers, even for the sciences, who taught in most imperfect Russian, and the private board- ing schools were in the hands mostly of foreigners, too frequently incompetent persons, who taught their pupils to look down upon the national language.
The above is the opinion of Kenevitch, but, with all deference to his authority, I cannot entirely accept it. There seems to me no special allusion to foreigners here, as there clearly is in " The Peasant and the Snake," to be afterwards noticed. The warning is, I believe, intended for that tendency to over-teaching, that crowding of too many subjects into each year's study, which has always been characteristic of education in Russia, and which does so much harm up to the present day.
Such study must be superficial. This point of view seems to me to agree both with the opening moral and with the conclusion of the fable. The Ducat is a mind that has been rubbed too much. This inevitably destroys the " simplicity " for which Kriloff pleads, and, weakening the intellect and character, paves the way for the vice and corruption of which he accuses modern culture. It should be remembered that the educational reforms of Alexander were directed towards educating the people, and in schools for them foreigners clearly could not teach.
Moreover, the opening of the subject with "culture" raises the question above elementary schools, and gives to it a more general character. Beyond the clouds an Eagle flew, And on a peak of Caucasus alighted, Just where an aged cedar stately grew, And with the wide expanse beneath his eyes delighted : It seemed as if he saw the earth's far edge ; There streams amid the plains their shining waters wedge There groves and meadows bloom, In spring's first verdure decked ; And there the Caspian's angry waves find room, Dark as a crow's wing on the horizon flecked.
A Spider answered, from the branch now creaking Beneath them both. Thou without wings and weak! Surely, thou hast not crept? How is't with you? To me it seems we never fail To meet with human spiders, who are thrown — Wittols, without one effort of their own — High up, by clinging to a great man's tail ; Then proudly swells the chest, As if from God an eagle's strength were given : Yet, let a puff of wind blow, off they're driven With damaged web in some dark hole to rest.
Kenevitch doubts the correctness of the application, because the fable was approved by the censorship three months before the fall of Speransky, but, in the biography of the latter by Baron Korf, it is evident that his fall had become inevitable long before it occurred, and Kriloff may well be credited with so much of the prophetical spirit, and moreover with the desire to hasten the predicted event. In KrilofFs fables and in his earlier works we find continually a dislike of foreign teaching and especially of French ways of thought, and Speransky was generally looked upon as the representative of French ideas in the administration.
This to Kriloff, Karamzin and others represented an evil principle. I do not doubt that the Spider was intended for Speransky, but it is still more certain that the comparison was exaggerated and undeserved. Speransky was the son of an uneducated provincial priest, and by his unaided talents rose to high rank in the service before he was thirty years of age. He became the principal confidant of Alexander I. He shared Alexander's admiration for Napoleon, and was the chief author of all the great changes in the administration which were put an end to by the Moscow campaign.
He was unjustly accused of treason, and exiled in March 18 It is almost certain that Alexander never believed the accusation, but he clearly thought himself compelled to give some satisfaction to the general voice, on the eve of a decisive struggle with Napoleon. The nobles, the commercial classes, and the peasants were all against Speransky, and he had many personal enemies among the higher Tchinovnicks : his fall was considered as the first victory over the French.
Speransky, like the Emperor himself, was more of a theoretical than a practical turn of mind, but again, like his master, he was a man of high personal character, of 44 ' THE BROOK. The work he accomplished was enormous. The charges, conveyed through his prototype the Spider, of hanging on to others, and owing his eleva- tion to no efforts of his own, and of foolish pride, are especially unjust.
Within four years after his exile Speransky was made Governor of Perm, and three years later Governor-General of Siberia. After holding the latter post two years, he was recalled to St. Petersburg, and readmitted to high office and the personal confidence of the Emperor, but he never regained his former pre-eminent position. The immediate application of this fable is manifestly unjust, but, like all KrilofFs fables based on particular incidents, it will bear a wider and more general applica- tion, the truth of which will always last.
Ube Broofe. A Shepherd, by a Brook, once plaintively bewailed His ill luck in a loss irreparable to him : His favourite lamb to save he'd failed, Drowned in the neighbouring river grim. On hearing him the Brook's soft purling wrath expressed : ' Insatiable stream! I think, if unto me by fate Such wealth of waters had been given, I should have been earth's ornament from heaven, And not a hen had suffered from my hate ; How carefully had flowed my current then, Nor injured either bush or hut of men!
Had I been only favoured in my banks, Valleys and meads refreshed had given me thanks, And not a leaf been found astray. In one word, working good upon my way, Nowhere the cause of grief or ill, My waters to the sea had reached, and still Flowed clearly, brightly on, like silver in a ray. What followed? Ere a week o'erwent, A bank of clouds upon the neighbouring hills Burst, and came down in rain ; The Brook e'en higher than the river fills ; Was then, alas, the mild Brook's promise vain?
Above the banks the Brook's now turgid stream Boils, rages, twists its soiled foam into balls, As 'neath its fury falls Full many an aged oak that safe did seem : A crash is o'er the distance heard, And lo — the shepherd, for whom late was stirred 46 THE LIAR. The Brook's compassion, to the river pleading Scarce artlessly but well, Perished with all his flock, crushed, drowned, and bleeding, And of his hut all trace bore off the torrent's swell.
How many a brook there is, that mildly flows, And whose sweet gurgling to the heart straight goes, Only through this — th,at not A good supply of water it has got! A nice place this, for instance! You but score Your days by bitter cold, or heat as keen ; Now the sun's rays are hid, now down in rays they pour : But there 's a paradise on earth!
The very thought of it to joy gives birth! There no one thinks of planting or of sowing : Would thou couldst see what there is growing! For instance, once a cucumber so tall — May God defend us all! I've not got over yet the fright i I saw in Rome that — pray believe my eyes Measured its size! And thus, my friend, thou see'st the world is wide, And Rome's great cucumber but one thing in't, Though huge beyond dispute ; I think thy hint Was that it topped a mountain by its side?
But let it pass : the world cannot invent A bridge like that o'er which we've now to cross, Where liars dare not plod. This very spring our town laments the loss Of two smart editors, one tailor's lad, Who in the torrent went to grief. Thy cucumber, if we may give belief, I think the measure of a town-house had? Two men can hardly in them creep, No room for them to stand or sleep! No cucumber, however it may thrive. One of the members was accustomed to boast of what he had seen on his travels, and once, when he declared the size of a stirlet in the Volga to equal the length of the room in which the company were assembled,Kriloff rose from his'chair near the door, saying, "Allow me to make room for your stirlet.
Ube Cat anb tbe Coofc. A Cook, whose learning passed for great, His kitchen left one evening late, Intent he was a man of godly life On ppt-house ale in memory of his wife, Who died that day a year before ; And, as he had of eatables a store, To keep them safe from mouse or rat He placed on guard a favourite Cat.
What's this he sees on his return? The floor All strewn with pie-crust, Tommy on the stretch Behind a cask, a chicken in his jaws, And purring softly as a bone he gnaws. Ah, thou nasty wretch! The neighbours all shall cry out to thy face : ' Tomcat's a rogue! Tomcat's a thief! Nor yard nor kitchen now shall Tommy see ; From hungry wolves the sheep-fold should be free : The scandal he, the pest, the eyesore of our streets!
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Our orator, once set on morals preaching, Could find no end unto his flow of teaching. And I would teach our Cook, the dunce, By letters in the wall cut big : To waste no time in talking like a prig, But force employ at once. Two honest Dealers, who their office had And house in common, like their trade, Finding their business had not been bad, Agreed to stop and share what they had made, But when has sharing not to quarrels led? This time a hot dispute was quickly bred : Now o'er the goods, and o'er the money now They wrangled, till were heard above the row Loud cries of " Fire!
Come faster, faster! At length the latter doth their clamours choke, And fire on them, their house, and goods doth feed. In many more important matters we Only too often see, That loss and ruin all concerned befall, Because, when union can alone make head Against the common danger, each instead, By his own private interest led, For that will squabble and the rest outbawl.
That such abuses existed is proved by the complaints of Rostoptchin, the same who set fire to Moscow, but I must confess that to me the fable contains very little that warrants the application, beyond the fact that it was written in r8i2. A Wolf, that thought into a fold to creep By night, mistakenly did leap Into a kennel, and could not get out. At once arose a fearful rout, Scenting the bully grey, the baying pack Would break through all to fight ; The whippers in " A thief! With sticks some thither run ; Others snatch up a gun : " A light!
But, seeing that no sheep now stopped his way, And that the reckoning came at last For those, on which he'd broken fast So oft, our trickster 'gan to pray For parley and for- peace : " My friends, what cause is there for all this riot? No greyer than my own thy hair, And long thy wolfish nature have I seen ; Hence this my rule hath always been : Not otherwise a peace to make With any wolf, but when I take His skin from off his back. The fable was read by Kutuzoff himself to his officers on the field of battle, after one of the victories of the retreat from Moscow.
That Napoleon at this time vainly endeavoured to enter into negotiations is a well-known historical fact. A line of carts, with earthen pots well loaded, Had reached and must descend a steep hill's side, The master, leaving his other beasts to bide Their turn, led gently down the first ungoaded. Bore up the cart so well, 'twas not once shaken ; When a young horse above for each step taken Reviled the old one with abuse and sneers : "A fine steed that, a very wonder! A crab that crawls and sideway steers!
That stone had nearly sent him under! He can't keep straight! Stumbling again! Ah, what is it he fears? No, to the left! Too late! Oh, what an ass! Were it to mount the hill, Or in the night ; But going down, and in the broad daylight! It is enough to make one ill! Find the tiny lane leading towards the Roseland in west Cornwall to enter a kingdom of turquoise bays, sandy coves and multi-coloured seaweeds.
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