Kriloff’s Original Fables
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.
The well-trained horse upon his quarters wide
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
To pull a water-cart thou’st barely skill
Look then at us, see how we do it smart,
An instant is not lost ; when once we start Our load we drag not, but glide on as sailing !
This said, his burden he began to pull, Holding his head up, and his breast out full, But half way down the hill his skill’s found failing
The load bore heavily, the cart plunged wide,
Striking the horse’s tail, and now his side. The horse is off, his feet in air, To win a race ; No stones, no ruts for him are there,
No bumps restrain his pace ; One turn too much, and with his load—he’s in the river ! And all his master’s pots to pieces shiver !
[This again alludes to Kutuzoff. The slow and prudent
movements of the Russian Fabius had roused the public
feeling against him. The Emperor himself blamed him
for not giving battle a second time under the walls of Moscow. Kriloff judged Kutuzoff more correctly.]
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