<< Home Page | Caxton Index

Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

6.13. Of a carpenter
(Perry 173)

In as moche as god is more propyce and benygne to the good and holy / moche more he punyssheth the wycked and euylle / As we may see by this fable / Of a carpenter whiche wutte wode vpon a Ryuer for to make a temple to the goddes / And as he cutte wode / his axe felle in the Ryuer / wherfore he beganne to wepe and to calle helpe of the goddes / And the god Mercurye for pyte appiered before hym And demaunded of hym wherfore he wepte / and shewed to hym an axe of gold / and demaunded of hym yf hit was the axe whiche he had lost / & he sayd may / And after the shewed to hym another axe of syluer / And semblably said nay And by cause that Mercurius sawe that he was good and trewe / he drewe his axe oute of the water / and took hit to hym with moche good that he gaf to hym / And the carpenter told thystorye to his felawes / of the whiche one of them came in to the same place for to cutte woode as his felawe dyd before / & lete falle his axe within the water / and beganne to wepe and to demaund the helpe and ayde of the goddes / And thenne Mercury appiered to fore hym / and shewed to hym an axe of gold / and demaunded of hym in suche manere / Is the same hit that thow hast lost / And he ansuerd to Mercury / ye fayre syre and myghty god the same is it / And Mercury seynge the malyce of the vylayne gaf to hym neyther the same ne none other / and left hym wepynge /
For god whiche is good and Iust rewarded the good and trewe in this world / or eche other after his deserte and punyssheth the euylle and Iniuste


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.