Kriloff’s Original Fables
Two honest Dealers, who their office had
And house in common, like their trade,
Finding their business had not been bad,
Agreed to stop and share what they had made,
But when has sharing not to quarrels led ? This time a hot dispute was quickly bred
Now o’er the goods, and o’er the money now
They wrangled, till were heard above the row Loud cries of ” Fire ! “—” The house is burning, save Your goods and it. Come faster, faster ! ”
But neither disputant attention gave. At last said one, aware of the disaster,
” Let’s go, accounts can afterwards be reckoned.”
” But give me first the thousand that you owe,”
Insists the second, ” Without it I’ll not leave the spot.” —” Two thousand mine, as all the books will show.” —” They’re not
Such scurvy tricks shall ne’er my pocket bleed.” —”But why?”—”Yes so !”—’• In this way, then! ” And so shout on the maddened men,
Forgetting in their greed
The flames, nor feeling e’en the thickening smoke.
At length the latter doth their clamours choke,
And fire on them, their house, and goods doth feed.
In many more important matters we
Only too often see, That loss and ruin all concerned befall, Because, when union can alone make head
Against the common danger, each instead,
By his own private interest led, For that will squabble and the rest outbawl.
[It appears to be the settled opinion of Russian critics, that this fable relates to certain administrative abuses during the invasion of Napoleon : the same kind of cor- ruption which afterwards prevailed during the Crimean
war. That such abuses existed is proved by the complaints
of Rostoptchin, the same who set fire to Moscow, but I must confess that to me the fable contains very little that warrants the application, beyond the fact that it was
written in r8i2. Kenevitch relies on the moral and its allusion to interested motives, but that is a very general
form of reproach, and as the fable itself ends in ruin for the Dealers, I cannot see that the comparison holds
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