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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

5.5. Of the foxe and of the catte
(Perry 605)

There is many folke / whiche auauncen them and saye that they ben wyse and subtyle / whiche ben grete fooles and knowynge no thynge / As this fable reherceth / Of a foxe whiche somtyme mette with a Catte / to whome he sayd / My godsep / god yeue yow good daye / And the catte ansuerd / My lord god gyue yow good lyf / And thenne the foxe demaunded of hym / My godsep what canst thow doo / And the catte sayd to hym / I can lepe a lytyl / And the fox sayd to hym / Certaynly thow arte not worthy to lyue / by cause that thow canst nought doo / And by cause that the cat was angry of the foxes wordes / he asked and demaunded of the foxe / And thow godsep what canst tow doo / A thousand wyles haue I sayd the foxe / For I haue a sak ful of scyences and wyles / And I am so grete a clerke / that none may begyle ne deceyue me / And as they were thus spekyng to gyder the cat perceyued a knyght comynge toward them / whiche had many dogges with hym / and sayd to the foxe / My godsep / certaynly I see a knyght / comynge hytherward / whiche ledeth with hym many dogges / the whiche as ye wel knowe ben our enemyes / The foxe thenne ansuerd to the cat / My godsep / thou spekest lyke a coward / and as he that is aferd / lete them come and care not thow / And Incontynently as the dogges perceyued and sawe the foxe and the catte / they beganne to renne vpon them / And whanne the foxe sawe them come / he sayd to the kat / Flee we my broder / flee we / To whome the kat ansuerd / Certaynly godsep / therof is none nede / Neuertheles the foxe byleued not the cat / but fledde / and ranne as fast as he myght for to saue hym / And the catte lepte vpon a tree and saued hym self / sayenge / Now shalle we see / who shalle playe best for to preserue and saue hym self / And whanne the catte was vpon a tree / he loked aboute hym / and sawe how the dogges held the foxe with theyr teethe / to whome he cryed and seyd / O godsep and subtyle foxe / of thy thowsand wyles that syth late thow coudest doo / lete me now see / and shewe to me one of them / the foxe ansuerd not / but was killed of the dogges and the catte was saued /
And therfore the wyse ought not to disprayse the symple / For suche supposeth to be moche wyse / whiche is a kynd and a very foole /


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.