The Bashaw and the Merchant book cover

The Bashaw and the Merchant

"The Bashaw and the Merchant" is a fable by Jean de La Fontaine that encapsulates themes of business ethics, fairness, and wisdom. The story unfolds around an unjust Bashaw (a high-ranking official) who attempts to confiscate the entirety of a wealthy merchant's goods. The merchant, through his cleverness, teaches the Bashaw a lesson about greed and wise leadership. This thought-provoking tale seeks to imbue its readers with fundamental principles of justice and fairness.

Genre: Fable

An old Greek Merchant, one day, sought Protection from a Bashaw, bought At pasha's, not at merchant's, price (Such guardians are not very nice). It cost so much, that he complained His purse and coffer were both drained. Three other Turks, of lower station, Offered, from sheer commiseration, Their joint help, by word and deed, For less than half the first to cede: The Greek he listens, then agrees. The Bashaw, cheated of his fees, Is told that if of time the nick He'd seize, these rascals he must trick-- Send them to Mahomet, to bear A message for his private ear; And quickly, too, or they united, Knowing his friends, would see him righted; Would send him some vile poison-broth, To show the keenness of their wrath; And that would send him to protect The Stygian merchants, they expect. The Turk--an Alexander--strode Unto the Merchant's snug abode: Down at the table sat--his air Generous, bold, and free from care, For he feared nothing,--how could he? "My friend," he said, "you're quitting me; And people tell me to watch keenly.-- You are too worthy: so serenely No poisoner ever looks, I know; So no more on that tack we'll go. But for these patrons you have found, Hear me,--to tell a tale I'm bound. To wrong you I have no intent, With reasoning, or with argument. "Once a poor shepherd used to keep A dog, to guard his silly sheep; Till some one asked him, plain and pat, How he could keep a beast like that, With such a ravenous appetite: It really wasn't fair or right. 'Twas their and every one's desire He'd give the dog up to the squire. Three terriers were best for him, To guard his flocks, in life and limb: The cur ate three times more than they.-- But the fool meddlers did not say He also fought with treble teeth, When wolves came howling out for death. The shepherd listened--three dogs bought: They cost him less, but never fought. The flock discovered their ill lot Almost as soon as you, I wot. Your wretched choice will quickly do: Now mark what I have said to you; If you'll do well, return to me." The Greek obeyed him speedily. 'Tis good the provinces should heed: 'Tis better, in good faith I plead, Unto one powerful king to bend, Than on poor princelings to depend.
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Jean de La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine was a renowned French fabulist and one of the most famous poets during the French classical period. He was born on July 8, 1621, and died on April 13, 1695. Known for his literary style, he is best known for his "Fables", which are considered classics of French literature. His works were marked by his sophisticated style and moral substance, and his fables provided a scathing critique of French society during his time. more…

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