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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

5.14. Of the wulf and of the foxe
(Perry 704)

None maye not be mayster without he haue be fyrste a disciple / As hit appiereth by this Fable / Of a Foxe whiche came toward a wulf / and sayd to hym / My lord I praye yow that ye wylle be my godsep / And the wulf ansuerd / I am content / And the foxe toke to hym his sone prayenge hym that to his sone he wold shewe and lerne good doctryne / the whiche the wulf tooke / and wente with hym vpon a montayne / And thenne he sayd to the lytyll foxe whanne the beestes shalle come to the feldes calle me / And the foxe wente and sawe fro the the top of the hylle / how the beestes were comynge to the feldes / and forthwith he wente and called his godfader / and sayd My godfader the beestes comen in to the feldes / And the wulf demaunded of hym / what bestes are they / and the fox ansuerd / they be bothe kyne & swyn to gyder / wel sayd the wulf / I gyue no force for them / lete them go for the dogges ben with them / And soone after the foxe dyd loke on another syde / and perceyued the mare whiche wente to the feldes / and he wente to his godfader & sayd / godfader the mare is goo to the feldes / & the wulf demaunded of hym where aboute is she / And the foxe ansuerd she is by the forest / And the wulf sayd / Now go we to dyner / And the wulf with his godsone entryd in to the wood / and came to the mare / The wulf perceyued wel and sawe a yonge colt / whiche was by his moder / the wulf tooke hym by the neck with his teethe and drewe hit within the wood / and ete deuoured hym bytwene them bothe / And whan they had wel eten the godson sayd to his godfader / My godfader I commaunde yow to god and moche I thanke yow of your doctryne / For wel ye haue taught me / in so moche / that now I am a grete clerke / & now I wylle goo toward my moder / And thenne the wulf sayd to his godson / My godsone yf thow gost awey / thow shalt repente the therfore / For thow hast not yet wel studyed / and knowest not yet the Sylogysmes / Ha my godfader sayd the Foxe / I knowe wel al / And the wulf sayd to hym / Sythe thow wylt goo / to god I commaunde the / And whanne the Foxe was come toward his moder / she sayd to hym / Certaynly / thow hast not yet studyed ynough / And he thenne sayd to her / Moder I am soo grete a clerke that I can cast the deuylle fro the clyf / Lete vs go chace / and ye shalle see yf I haue lerned ought or not / And the yong foxe wold haue done as his godfader the wulf dede / and said to his moder / make good watche / And whanne the beestes shalle come to the feld / lete me haue therof knowlege / And his moder sayd / wel my sone / so shalle I doo / She maade good watche / And whanne she sawe that both kyne and swyne wente to the feldes / she sayd thenne to hym My sone the kyne and the swyn to gyder ben in the feldes / And he ansuerd / My moder of them I retche nat / lete them goo / for the dogges kepe them wel / And within a short whyle after / the moder sawe come the mare nyghe vnto a wode / and wente / and sayd to her sone / My sone the mare is nyghe the wood And he ansuerd / My moder these ben good tydynges / Abyde ye here / For I goo to fetche our dyner / and wente and entred in to the wode / And after wold doo as his godfader dyd before / and wente and tooke the mare by the neck / But the mare tooke hym with her teeth / and bare hym to the sheepherd And the moder cryed from the top of the hylle / My sone lete goo the mare / and come hyder ageyne / but he myght not / For the mare held hym fast with her teethe / And as the sheep herdes came for to kylle hym / the moder cryed and sayd wepynge / Allas my sone thow dydest not lerne wel / and hast ben to lytel a whyle atte scole / wherfore thow must now deye myserably / And the sheepherdes took and slewe hym /
For none ought to saye hym self mayster withoute that he haue fyrst studyed / For some wente to be a grete clerke / that can nothyng of clergye /


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.