The Ass and the Peasant

Kriloff’s Original Fables
A peasant for the summer hired An Ass, and put it on his ground.
To keep off crows and sparrows ’twas required,
A mischief-making lot. The Ass was bound
By strictest morals, and its body sound. ‘Twas never savage, and it knew not theft : A leaf upon the ground it untouched left, And birds had sinned in saying it let them steal. The Peasant’s gain, though, from the ground was
The Ass’s active heels the birds drive all Away, but on the beds they also fall
Up, down, to right and left they wheel,
The soil down-trodden where in heaps not tossed. The Peasant, seeing that his pains were lost, Upon the Ass’s back did rub
The score out with a good stout club. ” Give it him well ! ” the neighbours cry. ” Serves the brute right
With wits as dull as night,
Upon him such a charge to take !

And I say, not excuses for the Ass to make : For he was wrong (and well hath paid his debt),
But, counting faults, there was another’s yet, His who to keep his ground an Ass could get.
[There are two Russian proverbs on which this fable may have been grounded : ” He let the goat into the
garden,” and, in allusion to the practice in the Greek
church, of bowing the head to the ground, ” Set a fool to
his prayers, and he will break his head.”]

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