The Crow and the Sheep

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the sheep and of the Crowe

Men ought not to iniurye ne disprayes the poure Innocentes ne the symple folke As reherceth this fable / Of a Crowe / whiche sette her self vpon the back of a sheep / And whan the sheep had born her a grete whyle she sayd to her / thow shalt kepe thy self wel to sette the vpon a dogge / And thenne the crowe sayd to the sheep / Thynke thow poure Innocent that I wote wel with whom I playe / For I am old and malycious / and my kynde is to lette all Innocents / and to be frende vnto the euyls /

And therfore this fable wylle telle and saye / how ther be folke of suche kynde / that they wyl doo no good werk / but only to lette euer the Innocents and symple folke

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


There was a Crow sat chattering upon the Back of a Sheep: Well! Sirrah, says the Sheep, you durst not ha’ done this to a Dog. Why, I know that, says the Crow, as well as you can tell me, for I have the Wit to consider whom I have to do withal. I can be as quiet as any body with those that are quarrelsome, and I can be as troublesome as another too, when I meet with those that will take it.

THE MORAL. ‘Tis the Nature and Practice of Drolls and Buffoons, to be insolent toward those that will bear it, and as slavish as others more than their Match.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Crow and the Sheep

A troublesome Crow seated herself on the back of a Sheep. The Sheep, much against his will, carried her backward and forward for a long time, and at last said, "If you had treated a dog in this way, you would have had your deserts from his sharp teeth." To this the Crow replied, "I despise the weak and yield to the strong. I know whom I may bully and whom I must flatter; and I thus prolong my life to a good old age."