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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

5.10. Of the wulf whiche made a fart /
(Perry 699)

It is folye to wene more than men ought to doo / For what someuer a foole thynketh hit semeth to hym that it shalle be / As it appiereth by this fable / of a wulf / whiche somtyme rose erly in a mornynge / And after that he was rysen vp fro his bedde / as he retched hym self / made a grete fart / and beganne to saye in hym self / blessyd be god therfore / these ben good tydynges / this daye / I shalle be wel fortunate and happy / as myn ers syngeth to me / And thenne he departed from his lodgys / and biganne to walke and goo / & as he wente on his way he fonde a sak ful of talowe / whiche a woman had lete falle / and with his foote he torned hit vpsodoune / and sayd to hym / I shalle not ete the / For thow sholdest hurte my tendre stomak / and that more is / I shall this day haue better mete / and more delycious / For well I knowe this by myn ers / whiche dyd synge it to me / And sayenge these wordes went his way / And anone after he fond a grete pyece of bakon wel salted / the whiche he tourned and retourned vpsodoune / And whan he had torned and retorned hit longe / ynough / he sayd / I dayne not to ete of this mete / by cause that hit shold cause me for to drynke to moche / for it is to salte And as myn ers songe to me last I shalle ete this same day better and more delycious mete / And thenne he beganne to walke ferther / And as he entryd in to a fayr medowe / he sawe a mare / and her yong foole with her / and sayd to hym self alone / I rendre thankes and graces to the goddes of the godes that they send me / For wel I wyst and was certayne / that this daye I shold fynde somme precious mete / And thenne he came nyghe the mare and sayd to her / Certaynly my suster I shalle ete thy child / And the mare ansuerd to hym / My broder doo whatsomeuer hit shalle please the / But fyrst I praye the that one playsyre thow wylt do to me / I haue herd saye that thow art a good Cyrurgyen / wherfore I praye the / that thou wylt hele me of my foote / I saye to the my good broder / that yesterdaye as I wente within the forest / a thorne entryd in to one of my feet behynd / the whiche greueth me sore / I praye the / that or thow ete my fool / thow wylt drawe and haue it oute of my foote / And the wulf answerd to the mare that shalle I doo gladly my good suster / shewe me thy foote / And as the mare shewed hir foote to the wulf / she gaf to the wulf suche a stroke bytwixe bothe his eyen / that alle his hede was astonyed and felle doune to the ground / and by the same occasion was hir foole or colt saued / And a longe space was the wulf lyenge vpon the erthe / as deed / And whanne he was come to hym self ageyne / and that he coud speke / he sayd / I care not for this myshap / For wel I wote that yet this day I shalle ete / and be fylled of delycious mete / And in sayenge these wordes lyft hym self vp / and wente aweye / And whanne he had walked and gone a whyle / he fond two rammes within a medowe whiche with their hornes launched eche other / And the wulf say in hym self / Blessyd be god / that now I shal be well fedde / he thenne came nyghe the two rammes / & said / Certaynly I shalle ete the one of you two And one of them sayd to hym / My lord doo alle that it plese yow / but fyrst ye must gyue to vs the sentence of a processe of a plee whiche is bytwixe vs bothe / And the wulf ansuerd / that with ryght a good wylle he wold doo hit / And after sayd to them / My lordes telle me your resons and caas / to thende that the better I may gyue the sentence of your different and question / And thenne one of them beganne to say / My lord / this medowe was bylongynge to our fader / And by cause that he deyde withoute makynge ony ordenaunce or testament / we be now in debate and stryf for the partynge of hit / wherfore we praye the that thow vouchesauf to accorde oure different / so that pees be made bytwene vs / And thenne the wulf demaunded of the rammes how theyr question myght be accorded / Ryght wel sayd one of them / by one manere / whiche I shal telle to the / yf hit please to the to here me / we two shalle be at the two endes of this medowe / and thow shalt be in the myddes of it / And fro thende of the medowe / we bothe at ones shalle renne toward the / And he that fyrst shalle come to the / shalle be lord of the medowe / And the last shalle be thyn / wel thenne sayd the wulf / thyn aduys is good and wel purposed / late see now who fyrst shalle come to me / Thenne wente the two rammes to the two endes of the medowe / and bothe at ones beganne to renne toward the wulf / and with alle theyr myght came and gaf to hym suche two strokes bothe at ones ageynst bothe his sydes / that almost they brake his herte within his bely / & there fyll doune the poure wulf alle aswowned / And the rammes wente theyr way / And whanne he was come ageyn to hym self / he took courage and departed / saynge thus to hym self / I care not for all this Iniurye and shame / For as myn ers dyd synge to me / yet shalle I this day ete somme good and delycious mete / He had not long walked / whanne he fond a sowe / and her smal pygges with her / And Incontynent as he sawe her / he sayd / blessyd be god of that I shalle this daye ete and fylle my bely with precious metes / and shalle haue good fortune / And in that sayenge approched to the sowe / & sayd to her / My suster I must ete somme of thy yonge pygges And the sowe wente and sayd to hym / My lord I am content of alle that / whiche pleaseth to yow / But or ye ete them / I praye yow that they maye be baptysed and made clene in pure and fayre water / And the wulf sayd to the sowe / Shewe me thenne the water / And I shalle wasshe and baptyse them wel / And thenne the sowe wente and ledde hym at a stange or pond where as was a fayr mylle / And as the wulf was vpon the lytyl brydge of the sayd mylle / and that he wold haue take one pygge / the sowe threwe the wulf in to the water with her hede / and for the swyftnesse of the water / he must nedes passe vnder the whele of the mylle / And god wote yf the wynges of the mylle bete hym wel or not / And as soone as he myght / he ranne away / And as he ranne seyd to hym self / I care not for soo lytyl a shame / ne therfore I shall not be lette / but that I shalle yet this daye ete my bely full of metes delycious / as myn ers dyd synge it erly to me / And as he passed thurgh the strete / he sawe somme sheep / and as the shepe sawe hym / they entryd in to a stable / And whan the wulf came there he sayd to them in this manere / God kepe yow my susters / I must ete one of yow / to thende / that I may be fylled and rassasyed of my grete honger / And thenne one of them sayd to hym / Certaynly my lord / ye are welcome to passe / For we ben comen hyder for to hold a grete solempnyte / wherfore we alle praye yow / that ye pontyfycally wylle synge And after the seruyse complete and done / doo what ye wyll of the one of vs / & thenne the wulf for vayn glory / faynyng to be a prelate beganne to synge and to howle before the sheep / And whanne the men of the toune herd the voys of the wulf / they came to the stable with grete staues and with grete dogges / and wonderly they wounded the wulf / and almost brought hym to deth / that with grete payne he coude goo / Neuertheles he scaped / and wente vnder a grete tree / vpon the whiche tree was a man whiche hewe of the bowes of the tree / The wulf thenne beganne to syghe sore / and to make grete sorowe of his euylle fortune / and sayd / Ha Iupiter how many euyls haue I had and suffred this daye / but wel I presume and knowe / that hit is by me and by myn owne cause / and by my proud thoughte / For the daye in the mornynge I fond a sak ful of talowe / the whiche I dayned not but only smelle hit And after I fond a grete pyece of bakon / the whiche I wold neuer ete for drede of grete thurst and for my folysshe thought / And therfore yf euylle is syn happed to me / it is wel bestowed and employed / My fader was neuer medecyn ne leche / and also I haue not studyed and lerned in the scyence of medycyn or phisyke / therfore if it happeth euylle to me / whanne I wold drawe the thorne oute of the mares fote it is wel employed / tem my fader was neuer neyther patryarke ne Bisshop / And also I was neuer lettred / and yet I presumed / and toke on me for to sacryfyce and to synge before the goddes / faynyng my self to be a prelate / but after my deserte I was wel rewarded / Item my fader was no legist ne neuer knewe the lawes / ne also man of Iustyce / and to gyue sentence of a plee / I wold entremete me / and fayned my self grete Iustycer / but I knewe neyther / a / ne / b / And yf therfore euylle is come to me / it is of me as of ryght it shold be / O Iupyter I am worthy of gretter punycyon whanne I haue offensed in so many maners / sende thow now to me from thyn hyghe throne a swerd or other wepen / wherwith I maye strongly punysshe and bete me by grete penaunce / For wel worthy I am to receyue a gretter disciplyne / And the good man whiche was vpon the tree / herkened alle these wordes & deuyses / and sayd no word / And whanne the wulf had fynysshed alle his syghes and complayntes / the good man toke his axe / wherwith he had kytte awey the dede braunches fro the tree / and cast it vpon the wulf / and it felle vpon his neck in suche a maner that the wulf torned vpsodoun the feet vpward and laye as he had ben dede / And whan the wulf myght releue and dresse hym self / he loked and byheld vpward to the heuen / and beganne thus to crye / Ha Iupiter I see now wel that thow hast herd and enhaunced my prayer / And thenne he perceyued the man whiche was vpon the tree / & wel wende that he had ben Iupiter / And thenne with alle his myght he fledde toward the forest sore wounded / and rendred hym self to humylyte / and more meke and humble he was afterward than euer before he had ben fyers ne prowde /
And by this fable men may knowe and see that moche resteth to be done of that / that a foole thynketh / And hit sheweth to vs / that whan somme good cometh to somme / it ought not be reffused / For it maye not ben recouerd as men wyll / And also it sheweth / hou none ought to auaunte hym to doo a thynge whiche he can not doo / but therfore euery man ought to gouerne and rewle hym self after his estate and faculte /


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.