The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the Columbes or douues of the kyte and of the sperehawke /

Who that putte and submytteth hym self vnder the saue gard or protection of the euylle / thou oughtest to wete & knowe / that whan he asketh & demaunded ayde & helpe / he geteth none / Wherof Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable / Of the douues whiche demaunded a sperehawke for to be theyr kynge / for to kepe them fro the kyte or mylan / And whanne the sperehawke was maade kynge ouer them / he beganne to deuoure them / the whiche columbes or douues sayd amonge them / that better it were to them to suffre of the kyte than to be vnder the subiection of the sperehawke / & to be martred as we be / but therof we be wel worthy / For we oure self been cause of this meschyef /

And therfore whanne men done ony thyng / men ought well to loke and consydere thende of hit / For he dothe prudently and wysely whiche taketh good hede to the ende

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


The Pigeons finding themselves persecuted by the Kite, made choice of the Hawk for their Guardian. The Hawk sets up for their Protector; but under the countenance of that Authority, makes more havock in the Dove-house in two Days, than the Kite could have done in twice as many months.

THE MORAL ‘Tis a dangerous thing for People to call in a powerful and ambitious Man for their Protector; and upon the Clamour of here and there a private Person, to hazard the whole community.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons

The Pigeons, terrified by the appearance of a Kite, called upon the Hawk to defend them. He at once consented. When they had admitted him into the cote, they found that he made more havoc and slew a larger number of them in one day than the Kite could pounce upon in a whole year.

Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease.