The Cat and the Cock

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the catte and of the chyken

He whiche is fals of kynde / & hath begonne to deceyue some other / euer he wyl vse his craft / As it appiereth by this present Fable of a kat whiche somtyme tok a chyken / the whiche he biganne strongly to blame / for to haue fonde somme cause that he myght ete hit / and sayd to hym in this manere / Come hyther thou chyken / thow dost none other good but crye alle the nyght / thow letest not the men slepe / And thenne the chyken ansuerd to hym / I doo hit for theyre grete prouffite / And ouer ageyne the catte sayd to hym / Yet is there wel wors / For thow arte an inceste & lechour For thow knowest naturelly both thy moder and thy doughter And thenne the chyken sayd to the cat / I doo hit by cause that my mayster maye haue egges for his etynge / And that hys mayster for his prouffyte gaf to hym bothe the moder and the doughter for to multyplye the egges / And thenne the Catte sayd to hym / by me feythe godsep thow hast of excusacions ynough / but neuertheles thow shalt passe thurgh my throte / for I suppose not to faste this day for alle thy wordes /

And thus is it of hym whiche is custommed to lyue by rauyn / For he can not kepe ne absteyne hym self fro hit / For alle thexcusacions that be leyd on hym

L'Estrange's translation (1692)[edit]

A CAT AND A COCK

It was the hard fortune once of a Cock to fall into the clutches of a Cat. Puss had a Month's mind to be upon the Bones of him, but was not willing to pick a quarrel, however, without some plausible colour for't. Sirrah (says he) what do you keep such a bauling and screaming a Nights for, that no body can sleep near you? Alas, says the Cock, I never wake any body, but when 'tis time for People to rise and go about their Business. Nay, says the Cat, and then there never was such an incestuous Rascal: Why, you make no more conscience of lying with your own Mother, and your Sisters.--In truth, says the Cock, again, that's only to provide Eggs for my Master and Mistress. Come, come, says Puss, without any more ado, 'tis time for me to go to Breakfast, and Cats don't live upon Dialogues. At which word she gave him a Pinch, and so made an end both of the Cock and of the Story.

THE MORAL OF THE TWO FABLES ABOVE. 'Tis an easy Matter to find a Staff to beat a Dog. Innocence is no Protection against the arbitrary Cruelty of a tyrannical Power; But Reason and Conscience are yet so sacred, that the greatest Villanies are still countenanc'd under that Cloke and Colour.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Cat and the Cock

A Cat caught a Cock, and pondered how he might find a reasonable excuse for eating him. He accused him of being a nuisance to men by crowing in the nighttime and not permitting them to sleep. The Cock defended himself by saying that he did this for the benefit of men, that they might rise in time for their labors. The Cat replied, "Although you abound in specious apologies, I shall not remain supperless"; and he made a meal of him.