The Thief and the Housedog

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the theef and of the dogge

Whanne that one gyueth ony thyng / men ought wel to take hede / to what ende hit is gyuen / wherof Esope reherceth suche a fable / Of a theef which came on a nyght within a mans hows for to haue robbed hym / And the good mans dogge beganne to bark at hym / And thenne the theef casted at hym a pyece of brede / And the dogge sayd to hym / thow casteth not this brede for no good wylle / but only to the ende / that I hold my pees / to thende that thow mayst robbe my mayster / And therfore hit were not good for me / that for a morsell of brede / I shold lese my lyf / wherfore goo fro hens / or els I shalle anone awake my mayster and alle his meyne / The dogge thenne beganne to bark / and the theef beganne to flee /

And thus by couetyse many haue oftyme receyued grete yeftes / the whiche haue ben cause of theyr dethe and to lese theyre heedes / wherfore hit is good to consydere and loke wel / to what entencion the yeft is gyuen / to thende that none may be bytrayd thurgh yeftes / Ne that by ony yeftes none maketh some trayson ageynst his mayster or lord

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


As a Gang of Thieves were at work to rob a House, a Mastiff took the Alarum, and fell a barking: One of the Company spoke him fair, and would have stopt his Mouth with a Crust. No, says the Dog, this will not do, for several Reasons. First, I’ll take no Bribes to betray my Master. Secondly, I am not such a Fool neither, as to sell the Ease and Liberty of my whole Life to come, for a piece of Bread in Hand: for when you have rifled my Master, pray who shall maintain me?

THE MORAL Fair Words, Presents, and Flatteries, are the Methods of Treachery in Courts, as well as in Cottages; only the Dogs are truer to their Masters than the Men.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Thief and the Housedog

A Thief came in the night to break into a house. He brought with him several slices of meat in order to pacify the Housedog, so that he would not alarm his master by barking. As the Thief threw him the pieces of meat, the Dog said, "If you think to stop my mouth, you will be greatly mistaken. This sudden kindness at your hands will only make me more watchful, lest under these unexpected favors to myself, you have some private ends to accomplish for your own benefit, and for my master's injury."