The Farmer and His Sons

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The Farmer and His Sons
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the labourer and of his children

He that laboureth and werketh contynuelly maye not faylle to haue plente of goodes / as it appiereth by this present fable / Of a good man labourer / whiche all his lyf had laboured and wrought / and was ryche / And whan he shold deye / he sayd to his children / My children I muste now deye / And my tresour I haue lefte in my vyne / And after that the good man was dede / his children whiche supposed that his tresour had ben in the vyne / dyd nothyng al day but delued hit / & it bare more frute that dyd before

For who trauaylleth wel / he hath euer brede ynough for to ete / And he that werketh not dyeth for honger

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


A Countryman that liv’d handsomly in the World himself upon his honest Labour and Industry, was desirous his Sons should do so after him; and being now upon his Death-bed: [My dear Children] (says he) I reckon myself bound to tell you before I depart, that there is a considerable Treasure hid in my Vineyard; wherefore pray be sure to dig, and search narrowly for’t when I am gone.] The Father dies, and the Sons fall immediately to work upon the Vineyard. They turn’d it up and over, and not one penny of Money to be found there, but the Profit of the next Vintage expounded the Riddle.

THE MORAL. Good Counsel is the best Legacy a Father can leave to a Child, and it is still the better, when it is so wrapt up, as to beget a Curiosity as well as an Inclination to follow it.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Farmer and His Sons

A father, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given it. He called them to his bedside and said, "My sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards." The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.