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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

3.3. Of the asse / of the hors / & of theyr fortune
(Perry 565)

He that is wel fortuned and happy / and is atte vpperest of the whele of fortune / may wel falle doune / And therfore none ought to disprayse the poure / but ought to thynke how the whele of fortune is moche doubtuous as sheweth this present fable / Of a fayr hors whiche was wel harnaysed and arayed / and his sadel and brydel garnysshed with gold / whiche hors mette with an asse sore laden in a narowe way / And by cause that the asse tourned hym not a bak Incontynent the hors sayd to hym / Ha a chorle hast thow noo shame ne vergoyne / that thow doste ne berest none worshippe ne reuerence vnto thy lord / who holdeth now me / that wyth my foote I breke not thyn hede / by cause that thow puttest not thyself asyde and oute of my waye / so that I myght passe & goo on my waye / The poure asse ansuerd ne sayd to hym neuer a word / and was sore aferd that the hors shold haue bete hym / wherfore he held his pees as wyse and sage / And the hors wente his waye / And within a lytel whyle after / it befelle / that fortune tourned he whele vp so doune / For thys fayre hors became old lene and seke / And whanne his maystre sawe that his hors was thus lene and seke and oute of prosperyte / he comaunded that he shold be had in to the toun And that in stede of his ryche sadel men shold put and sette on his backe a panyer for to bere dounge in to the feldes / Now it happed that the asse whiche was in a medowe etyng grasse perceyued and sawe the hors and wel knewe hym / wherof he was wonder abasshed / and merueylled moche that he was thus poure and so lene bycome / And the Asse went toward him and sayd / Ha a felawe where is now thy fayre sadel / and thy ryche brydel / garnysshed with gold / how arte thow now bycome soo lene and suche a payllard / what haue prouffyted to the thy fayre and ryche rayments / and what auaylled now to the thy grete fyerste and pryde / and thy grete presumpcion whiche ones thow shewest to me / Thynke now / how thow arte lene and vnthryfty / And how thow and I ben now of one offyce / And the myserable and vnhappy hors was abasshed / And for shame loked dounward / & ansuerd neuer one word / for alle hys felycite was thenne torned in to aduersyte /
And therfore they that ben in felycite / oughte not to dysprayse them / whiche ben in aduersyte / For many one I knew ryche and myghty / whiche are now poure /

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.