The Sack – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
Within a hall, upon the floor, Into a corner swept,
A Sack lay, long neglected
;
The feet of all the servants left Their wet marks on its back ; When, crack
!
Its use was suddenly detected
;
Promoted now to honours high,
‘Twas filled with golden coin,
And made to join
The riches of a strongbox long laid by.
The master now himself doth care, That on it neither dare
The wind to blow, nor any fly to sit
;
And, what is more, the entire town
Has seen and talks of it. No sooner has a guest sat down,
Than of his Sack the host will smiling speak
;
And, if he once the strings untie,
Then each that peeps a tear has in his eye
;
And e’en the one most shy
To touch or pat it tenderly will seek. Seeing that none now thought him weak or low,
Our Sack to put on airs began
Of wisdom, like an ignorant man,
And from his mouth whole streams of nonsense flow,
Of all he judges and disposes : This will not pass
;
That one’s an ass ; And everywhere some ill he noses. His listeners stand around with mouths agape ; Although his lips such rubbish shape,
That all their ears should burn : One of man’s vices is that he will hold
Sacred, and bow before what’s backed by gold,
Though to absurdity it plainly turn.
But, long upon our Sack did fame and honours pour ? Long did the petting last ? The gold within it melted all too fast
;
And then, ’twas thrown aside nor heard of more.
None to offend we wish with this our fable : But in the world of high finance,
Such Money-bags to meet we often chance,
That once served in a beer-house or a stable ; Or else a gang of sharpers left, To earn a shilling quite unable
;
Yet who, by thrift or theft, The Lord knows which, have wondrous wealth collected, —By dukes, ay, princes now respected

Who play with each grandee,
Whose lackey once they dared not hope to be,
A friendly game at whist,

A grand thing and thrice blessed, you see, To hold a million in each dirty fist !