<< Home Page | Caxton Index

Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

2.19. Of the man and of the wesel
(Perry 293)

Men ought wel to loke and behold the courage & thought of hym / whiche dothe good / and the ende / wherfor he dothe hit / wherof Esope reherceth suche a fable Of a man whiche tooke a wesell / the which chaced after the rattes wythynne his hows / And after whanne he had taken her / he would haue kylled her / And whanne the poure Weselle sawe the wrathe and furour of her mayster / she cryed to hym / mercy / sayenge thus / My lord I requyre and praye the / that thow wylt pardonne to me / And that thow wylt reward me of the grete seruyse whiche I haue done to the / For euer I haue chaced the rats oute of thy hows / And the man sayd to her / thow dydest not that for the loue of me / but only thow hast done it for to fylle thy bely For yf thow haddest done it for the loue of me / I shold haue pardonned to the / And by cause that thow dydest not for to serue me / but for to lette and adommage me / For that the rattes myght not ete / thow barest it awey / And soo by cause / that thow arte wexed fatte of myne owne brede / thow must rendre and yeue to me alle that fatnesse / whiche thou hast conquered and goten here / For he that robbeth shall be robbed / Iuxta illud / pillatores pillabuntur / For hit suffyseth not to doo wel / but men must haue good wylle and good entencion for to do hit / For an almesse that is done for vayne glorye / is not merited / but dismeryted / wherfore I shal not pardonne the / but incontynent and withoute taryenge thow shalt deye / For by cause that thow hast deseruyed no mercy / thow shalt now be putte to dethe

Caxton published his edition of Aesop's fables in 1484. There are modern reprints by Joseph Jacobs (D. Nutt: London, 1889) and more recently by Robert Lenaghan (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1967). Lenaghan's edition is available at amazon.com.