The Merchant and the Ass

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The Merchant and the Ass
by Aesop
Translated by William Caxton (1484)

Of the Marchaunt and of the asse

Many one ben trauaylled after theyr dethe / wherfor men ought not to desyre the dethe / As reherceth Esope by this fable / Of a marchaunt whiche ladde an Asse laden vnto the market / And for to be the sooner at the market / he bete his asse / and sore prycked hym / wherfor the poure asse wysshed & desyred his owne deth / wenyng to hym that after his dethe he shold be in reste / And after that he had be wel bete & chaced he deyde / And his mayster made hym to be flayne / and of his skynne he dyd doo make tambours whiche ben euer bete /

And thus for what payne that men may haue durynge his lyf / he ought not to desyre and wysshe his dethe / For many one ben / whiche haue grete payne in this world that shall haue a gretter in the other world / For the man hath no reste for the dethe but for his merytes