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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

5.7. Of the wulf and of the asse
(Perry 696)

Men ought not to byleue lyghtly the counceylle of hym to whome men purposen to lette / As ye maye see by this fable / Of a wulf whiche somtyme mette with an Asse / to the whiche he sayd / My broder I am hongry / wherfor I must nedes ete the / And thenne the Asse ansuerd ryght benyngly / My lord / with me thow mayst doo what someuer thow wylt / For yf thow etest me / thou shalt putte me oute of grete payne / but I praye the yf thow wylt ete me / that thou vouchesauf to ete me oute of the way / For wel thow knowest that I brynge home the raysyns fro the vyne / and fro the felds home the corne / Also wel thow knowest / that I bere home wood fro the forest / And whanne my maister wel do buyld somme edyffyce / I must go fetche the stones from the montayne / And at the other parte I bere the corne vnto the mylle / And after I bere home the floure / And for alle short conclusions I was borne in a cursyd houre / For to alle payne and to alle grete labours I am submytted & subget to hit / For the whiche I wylle not that thow ete me here in the way for the grete vergoyne and shame that therof myght come to me / But I pray the / and Instantly requyre the / that thow wylt here my counceylle / whiche is / that we two go in to the forest / and thow shalt bynde me by thy breste / as thy seruaunt / and I shalle bynd the by the neck as my mayster And thow shalt lede me before the in to the wood where someuer thow wylt / to the ende that more secretely thow ete me / to the whiche couneylle the wulf acorded and sayd / I wylle wel that it be done so / And whanne they were come in to the forest / the bounde eche other in the maner as aboue is sayd And whanne they were wel bounden / the wulf sayd to the Asse / goo we where thou wylt / and goo before for to shewe the waye / And the asse went byfore and ledde the wulf in to the ryght waye of his maysters hows / And whanne the wulf beganne to knowe the way / he sayd to the asse / we goo not the ryght way / to the whiche the asse ansuerd / My lord saye not that / For certaynly / this is the ryght wey / But for alle that / the wulf wold haue gone backward / But neuertheles the Asse ledde hym vnto the hows of his mayster / And as his mayster and alle his meyny sawe how the Asse drewe the wulf after hym / and wold haue entred in to the hows they came oute with staues and clubbes and smote on the wulf / And as one of them wold haue caste and smyten a grete stroke vpon the wulfes heede / he brake the cord / wherwith he was bounden / And so scaped and ranne awey vpon the montayne sore hurted and beten / And thenne the asse for the grete ioye that he hadde of that he was so scaped fro the wulf / beganne to synge / And the wulf whiche was vpon the montayne / & herd the voys of thasse beganne to saye in hym self / thow mayst wel crye and calle / For I shalle kepe the wel another tyme / that thow shalt not bynd me as thow hast done / but late gone /
And therfore hit is grete folye to byleue the counceylle of hym to whome men will lette / and to putte hym self in his subiection / And he that ones hath begyled / must kepe hym from another tyme that he be not deceyued / For he to whome men purposen to doo somme euylle tourn / syth men holden hym at auauntage / men muste putte hem self at the vpper syde of hym / And after men shall purueye for their counceylle


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.