The Hares and the Frogs

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The Hares and the Frogs
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the hares and of the frogges

Men say comynly that after that the tyme goth / so must folke go / For yf thow makest distinction of the tyme thow shalt wel accord the scryptures / wherof Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable / And sayth thus / that he whiche beholdeth the euylle of other / must haue pacyence of the euylle that maye come vpon hym / For somtyme as a hunter chaced thurgh the feldes and woodes / the hares beganne to flee for fere And as they ranne / they adressyd them in to a medowe fulle of frogges / And whanne the frogges herd the hares renne they beganne also to flee and to renne fast / And thenne a hare whiche perceyued them so ferdfull sayd to alle his felawes / Lete vs no more be dredeful ne doubtuous / for we be not alone that haue had drede / For alle the frogges ben in doubte / and haue fere and drede as we haue / Therfore we ought not to despayre / but haue trust and hope to lyue / And yf somme aduersyte cometh vpon vs / we must bere it pacyently / For ones the tyme shalle come that we shalle be oute of payne and oute of all drede /

Therfore in the vnhappy and Infortunat tyme men ought not be despayred / but oughte euer to be in good hope to haue ones better in tyme of prosperyte / For after grete werre cometh good pees / And after the rayne cometh the fair weder

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


Once upon a time the Hares found themselves mightily unsatisfy’d with the miserable Condition they liv’d in, and called a Council to advise upon’t. Here we live, says one of ‘em, at the Mercy of Men, Dogs, Eagles, and I know not how many other Creatures and Vermin, that prey upon us at Pleasure; perpetually in frights, perpetually in danger; and therefore I am absolutely of opinion that we had better die once for all, than live at this rate in continual Dread that’s worse that Death it self. The Motion was seconded and debated, and a Resolution immediately taken, One and All, to drown themselves. The Vote was no sooner pass’d but away they scudded with that Determination to the next Lake. Upon this Hurry there leapt a whole Shoal of Frogs from the Bank into the Water, for fear of the Hares. Nay then, my Masters, says one of the gravest of the Company, pray let’s have a little Patience. Our Condition, I find is not altogether so bad as we fansied it; for there are those you see that are as much afraid of us, as we are of others.

THE MORAL OF THE TWO FABLES ABOVE There’s no Contending with the Orders and Decrees of Providence. He that made us knows what’s fittest for us; and every Man’s own Lot (well understood and managed) is undoubtedly the best.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Hares and the Frogs

The Hares, oppressed by their own exceeding timidity and weary of the perpetual alarm to which they were exposed, with one accord determined to put an end to themselves and their troubles by jumping from a lofty precipice into a deep lake below. As they scampered off in large numbers to carry out their resolve, the Frogs lying on the banks of the lake heard the noise of their feet and rushed helter-skelter to the deep water for safety. On seeing the rapid disappearance of the Frogs, one of the Hares cried out to his companions: "Stay, my friends, do not do as you intended; for you now see that there are creatures who are still more timid than ourselves."

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Hares and the Frogs

The Hares were so persecuted by the other beasts, they did not know where to go. As soon as they saw a single animal approach them, off they used to run. One day they saw a troop of wild Horses stampeding about, and in quite a panic all the Hares scuttled off to a lake hard by, determined to drown themselves rather than live in such a continual state of fear. But just as they got near the bank of the lake, a troop of Frogs, frightened in their turn by the approach of the Hares scuttled off, and jumped into the water. "Truly," said one of the Hares, "things are not so bad as they seem:

"There is always someone worse off than yourself."