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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

Avyan 13. Of the hunter and of the tygre
(Perry 340)

Werse is the stroke of a tonge / than the stroke of a spere as hit appiereth by this fable / Of a hunter / whiche with his arowes hurted the wyld beestes / in suche wyse that none scaped for hym / to the whiche bestes a tygre fyers and hardy sayd in this manere / Be not aferd / For I shalle kepe yow wel / And as the Tygre came in to the wode / the hunter was hyd within a busshe / the whiche whan he sawe passe the tygre before the busshe / he shote at hym an arowe / and hytte hym on the thye / wherfore the tygre was gretely abasshed And wepynge and sore syghynge sayd to the other beestes / I wote not from whens this cometh to me / And whanne the foxe sawe hym soo gretely abasshed / al lawhynge sayd to hym / Ha a tygre / thow arte so myghty and so stronge / And thenne the tygre sayd to hym / My strengthe auaylled me not at that tyme / For none may kepe hym self fro treason And therfore some secrete is here / whiche I knewe not before But not notwithstandynge this I maye wel conceyue / that there is no wors arowe / ne that letteth more the man / than tharowe whiche is shotte fro the euyll tongue / For whanne som persone profereth or sayth som wordes in a felauship / of somman of honest & good lyf / alle the felauship supposeth that that whiche this euylle tongue hath sayd be trewe / be hit trewe or not / how be it that it be but lesynge / but notwithstondynge the good man shalle euer be wounded of that same arowe / whiche wound shalle be Incurable / And yf hit / were a stroke of a spere / hit myght be by the Cyrurgyen heled / but the stroke of an euylle tongue may not be heled / by cause that Incontynent as the word is profered or sayd / he that hath sayd hit / is no more mayster of hit /
And for this cause the stroke of a tongue is Incurable and withoute guaryson

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.