The Fox and the Crow

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the rauen and of the foxe

They that be glad and Ioyefull of the praysynge of flaterers oftyme repente them therof / wherof Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable / A rauen whiche was vpon a tree / and held with his bylle a chese / the whiche chese the fox desyred moche to haue / wherfore the foxe wente and preysed hym by suche wordes as folowen / O gentyll rauen thow art the fayrest byrd of alle other byrdes / For thy fethers ben so fayr so bryght and so resplendysshynge / and can also so wel synge yf thow haddest the voys clere and small thow sholdest be the moost happy of al other byrdes / And the foole whiche herd the flaterynge wordes of the foxe beganne to open his bylle for to synge / And thenne the chese fylle to the grounde / and the foxe toke and ete hit / and whan the rauen sawe that for his vayn glorye he was deceyued wexed heuy and sorowfull / And repented hym of that he had byleued the foxe /

And this fable techeth vs / how men ought not to be glad ne take reioysshynge in the wordes of caytyf folke / ne also to leue flatery ne vaynglory

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

A FOX AND A RAVEN

A certain Fox spy’d out a Raven, upon a Tree with a Morsel in his Mouth, that set his Chops a watering: but how to come at it was the Question. Oh thou blessed Bird! (says he) the Delight of the Gods and of Men! and so he lays himself forth upon the Gracefulness of the Raven’s Person, and the Beauty of his Plumes: his admirable Gift of Augury, &c. and now, says the Fox, if thou hast but a Voice answerable to the rest of thy excellent Qualities, the Sun in the Firmament could not shew the World such another Creature. This nauseous Flattery sets the Raven immediately a gaping as wide as he ever could stretch, to give the Fox a taste of his Pipe; but upon the opening of his Mouth, he drops his Breakfast, which the Fox presently chopt up, and then bad him remember, that whatever he had said of his Beauty, he had spoken nothing yet out of his Brains.

THE MORAL There’s hardly any Man living that may not be wrought upon more or less by Flattery: For we do all of us naturally overween in our own Favour? But when it comes to be applied once to a vain Fool, it makes him forty times an arranter Sot than he was before.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Fox and the Crow

A Crow having stolen a bit of meat, perched in a tree and held it in her beak. A Fox, seeing this, longed to possess the meat himself, and by a wily stratagem succeeded. "How handsome is the Crow," he exclaimed, in the beauty of her shape and in the fairness of her complexion! Oh, if her voice were only equal to her beauty, she would deservedly be considered the Queen of Birds!" This he said deceitfully; but the Crow, anxious to refute the reflection cast upon her voice, set up a loud caw and dropped the flesh. The Fox quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the Crow: "My good Crow, your voice is right enough, but your wit is wanting."

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Fox and the Crow

A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. "That's for me, as I am a Fox," said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree. "Good-day, Mistress Crow," he cried. "How well you are looking to-day: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds." The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox. "That will do," said he. "That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future ."Do not trust flatterers."