The Slanderer and the Snake

Kriloff’s Original Fables
Of devils men unfairly talk, As if in ways of truth they never walk,
Though justice of her due they seldom balk
Of this a good example I can bring.
It chanced that once, within hell’s burning ring,
A Snake and Slanderer together took their swing
But neither to the other precedence would allow,
And so began a row, As to the one that properly should march before his friend. In hell precedence doth, ’tis known, on this depend

Who can his neighbour’s heart most surely rend ? In the dispute, with heat, in lengthy guise,
The Slanderer, to persuade the Snake,
The venom from his tongue doth shake
And boasting of her sting the Snake replies : She hisses out, none dare insult her to her face, And strives to overcrawl her rival’s pace. The Slanderer behind her tail a step had stayed : When Beelzebub, disgusted, moved his shanks
Himself, for which to him be thanks,
The Slanderer came to aid
And set the Snake again behind,
Saying: “Although thy services I’mind, In his unto precedence all a juster claim must find :
Thou evil art, —thy sting is death ; Thou dangerous art, when thou art near
Thou bit’st offenceless ones (enough, no fear !), But from a distance sendest thou such poisonous breath,
As doth this Slanderer here ? From him no flight o’er mountains high that saves, No stretch of ocean’s waves ! The harm he doth is never worked by thee ; Crawl thou, then, after him, and henceforth humbler be ! ”
This is why Slanderers in hell prized above Snakes we see.
[There is a Russian proverb to this effect : ” Thou
may’st escape a snake, but calumny its own will take.”]