The Oracle – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
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.
All blindly follow what he teaches,
When suddenly

wonder, shame !

The Oracle betrays its fame,
Talks nonsense, which to downright rubbish reaches : Whoever comes, whatever be the point,
Our Oracle finds speech but vague, disjoint,
And lies so, men ask wondering, whither
Hath flown the gift divine that once came hither
!
This is the fact
:
The Idol had a priest within, to act His part in humbugging believers, so, As long as one of sharp wits sat inside,
It did not matter much, e’en if he lied,
But when a fool got in, it was no go, The Idol to a goose could not say ” Bo !

I’ve heard, is ‘t true, that we in days gone by
Had many Justices, who passed for sages, Only while they could on a Clerk rely
To whisper to them wisdom for hfs wages. — —
[The Russian moral speaks of Judges and their Secretaries, but, as this would have no point in English, it has
been replaced by the well-known butts of our novelists and dramatists.]