<< Home Page | Caxton Index

Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

6.8. Of the catte and of the rat
(Perry 79)

He whiche is wyse / and that ones hath ben begyled / ought not to truste more hym that hath begyled hym As reherceth this Fable of a catte whiche wente in to a hows / where as many rats were / the whiche he dyd ete eche one after other / And whanne the rats perceyued the grete fyersnes and crudelyte of the catte / held a counceylle to gyder where as they determyned of one comyn wylle / that they shold no more hold them ne come nor goo on the lowe floore wherfore one of them moost auncyent profered and sayd to al the other suche wordes / My brethern and my frendes / ye knowe wel / that we haue a grete enemye / whiche is a grete persecutour ouer vs alle / to whome we may not resyste / wherfor of nede we must hold our self vpon the hyghe balkes / to thende that he may not take vs / Of the whiche proposycion or wordes the other rats were wel content and apayd / and byleuyd this counceylle / And whanne the kat knewe the counceylle of the rats / he hynge hym self by his two feet behynd at a pynne of yron whiche was styked at a balke / feynynge hym self to be dede / And whanne one of the rats lokynge dounward sawe the katte beganne to lawhe and sayd to the cat / O my Frend yf I supposed that thow were dede / I shold goo doune / but wel I knowe the so fals & peruers / that thou mayst wel haue hanged thy self / faynynge to be dede / wherfore I shalle not go doune /
And therfore he that hath ben ones begyled by somme other / ought to kepe hym wel fro the same

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.