The Cask

Kriloff’s Original Fables
A man called once upon a friend, to ask That he would lend for several days a Cask,
A service which a friend could scarce deny.
Had it been money, now, he borrowed, why
His friend might easily have said him no, Friendship and money together seldom go ; But lend a Cask, ’twas such a trifling thing ! Soon to its owner back the Cask they bring,
And he pours water into it as before. Thus all had ended well, Only the Cask had been, as told the smell,
For three days holding spirits in a store :
All that they put into ‘t a flavour catches
;
The beer is spoiled, the wine bad whiskey matches ; And dry goods get a most unpleasant taste. The owner’s not in haste,
For many a day
The Cask he knocks about
:
He steams it, airs it, but the smell won’t out, And so at last he throws the Cask away.
Think of this fable, ye who parents are, And so bring up your children, that no bar In life spring from their youth directed ill ! For that once stained, whate’er the lips proclaim, In every act, beneath the seeming aim,
A mind perverted is apparent still.
[Several Russian commentators have supposed this fable to be directed against the mysticism which had then begun to penetrate into Russia ; others, again, suppose it to allude to the secret societies which were then already
at work. Kenevitch seems to lean to the interpretation of Pletneff, that it refers generally to the irreparable evils of a bad education, and so it will probably be most often understood.]