The Grandee

Kriloff’s Original Fables
In days of old a powerful Grandee
From all his wealth was forced to flee Unto the land where Pluto holds his Court,
He died, in short ;
And must before the judges of all the Shades appear. There he was asked : what he had been ? where
” A Satrap I did Persia’s rule adorn,
But, as ill health did ever make me fear Exertion, on my Secretary I Did for affairs of government rely.” —”But what didst do, then ?”—” Drank, ate, dozed,
And signed whatever was to me proposed.” —” At once to heaven with him.”—” But, is that just?”
Cried Mercury, forgetting that he must
Be first of all polite. ” Ah,” answered ., ” you might,
Good friend, have sense to see I’m right,
And not try me to school. Canst thou not guess, the dead man was a fool ? What if, with all the power he possessed,
Himself to rule unhappily he’d tried ? He’d soon have ruined all the country wide,
And tears wrung from a nation thus oppressed ! To heaven his ghost we justly call, Because on earth he did no work at all.”
I yesterday a judge saw, sitting in his court
The way to heaven for him seems sure and short. — —
[Kriloff presented this fable, a year before it was
published, to the Minister of Public Education, Ouvaroff,
who promised to obtain the authorization of the Emperor,
but allowed it to lie by him forgotten. In the meantime
copies of it got into society, and it was publicly declaimed
by the pupils of the Page Corps. This disquieted Kriloff,
and he determined to profit by a masquerade at the palace,
and read it in the Emperor’s presence. He did so, and
Nicholas was so much pleased with it that he gave per- mission on the spot for it to be printed.]

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