Kriloff’s Original Fables
Many there are, be only once their friend,
And thou the first of writers art, a genius without end
;
But let another come, However sweetly he may sing, they’re dumb
;
Not only can he not the slightest praise expect,
They fear to feel the beauties they detect,
And, though I may annoy them by the act,
I here shall tell no fable, but a fact
Within a certain church a preacher
(Plato in eloquence had been his teacher)
Taught his parishioners all charitable ways. His gentle speech sounds sweetly as it flows,
And, with the simplest truths alone, which no pretence
betrays,
Straight up the steps of faith it goes,
Till in the light of heaven each thought and feeling glows,
Lifted from earth to where earth’s vanities are not. The Pastor’s teaching to an end had got
:
But each heart felt his touch, and every mind,
Surprised at self, itself did elevated find, While tears unconsciously did fall—day ne’er forgot.
As from the house of prayer the congregation went,
” Who would not such a gift admire ? ” —One of the hearers to another lent

” What sweetness, and what fire
!
How forcibly all hearts to good he doth incline ! But thou, my friend, must have a nature more than tough : In all eyes tears, but not in thine ! Didst thounot understand?”—”Hownot? All, well enough
!
But then, what cause for me to cry ?
I am not of this parish, I
!

—o-—
[The idea of this fable may have been taken from an old French epigram, in which a similar answer is given about
the preaching of ” un Pere Capucin,” ” Pourquoi pleurerois-je dit il, Je ne suis pas de la Paroisse, ”
but there is no reason for supposing that Kriloff was
acquainted with it. A more probable source is an old and
forgotten collection of anecdotes published in Moscow,
which Kriloff, a great hunter after odd books, may easily
have met with. Some have supposed that this fable related to the neglect shown to Kriloff by the literary
world of Moscow, and the preference given to Demetrieff.
It is even averred that a particular passage, in a preface to the poems of Demetrieff, by Prince Viazemsky, roused
Kriloff to write ” The Parishioner.” This last idea was
shared by Kriloff’s great friend Olenin, so that, in all probability, this was the occasion, and the old anecdote
book the source of the point of the fable.]

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