The Wolf and the Housedog

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the wulf and of the dogge

Lyberte or fredome is a moche swete thynge / as Esope reherceth by this fable / of a wulf and of a dogge whiche by aduenture mette to gyder / wherfore the wulf demaunded of the dogge / wherof arte thow so fatte and so playsaunt / And the dogge ansuerd to hym / I haue wel kepte my lordes hows / & haue barked after the theues whiche came in the hows of my mayster / wherfore he and his meyny gyue to me plente of good mete / wherof I am fatte and playsaunt / and the wulf sayd thenne to hym / It is wel sayd my broder / Certaynly syth thow arte so wel atte thyn ease and farest so wel I haue grete desyre to dwelle with the / to thende that thow & I make but one dyner / wel sayd the dogge / come on with me yf thow wylt be as wel at thyn ease as I am / and haue thou no doubte of no thynge / The wulf wente with the dogge / and as they wente by the way / the wulf beheld the dogges neck / whiche was al bare of here / and demaunded of the dogge / My broder why is thy neck so shauen / And the dogge ansuerd / it is by cause of my grete coler of yron / to whiche dayly I am fasted / And at nyght I am vnbound for to kepe the hows the better / Thenne sayd the wulf to the dogge / This I myster ne nede not / For I that am in lyberte / wylle not be put in no subiection / And therfor for to fylle my bely / I wylle not be subget / yf thou be acustommed for to be bound / contynue thow in hit / and I shalle lyue as I am wonte and acustomed /

therfore there is no rychesse gretter / than lyberte / For lyberte is better than alle the gold of the world /

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

A DOG AND A WOLF

There was a hagged Carrion of a Wolf, and a jolly sort of a genteel Dog, with good Flesh upon’s Back, that fell into Company together upon the King’s Highway. The Wolf was wonderfully pleas’d with his Companion, and as inquisitive to learn how he brought himself to that blessed State of Body. Why, says the Dog, I keep my Master’s House from Thieves, and I have very good Meat, Drink, and Lodging for my Pains. Now if you’ll go along with me, and do as I do, you may fare as I fare. The Wolf struck up the Bargain, and so away they trotted together: But as they were jogging on, the Wolf spy’d a bare Place about the Dog’s Neck, where the Hair was worn off. Brother (says he) how comes this, I prithee? Oh, that’s nothing, says the Dog, but the fretting of my Collar a little. Nay says t’other, if there be a Collar in the Case, I know better things than to sell my Liberty for a Crust.

THE MORAL. We are so dazzl’d with Glare of a splendid Appearance, that we can hardly discern the Inconveniences that attend it. ‘Tis a Comfort to have good Meat and Drink at Command, and warm Lodging: But he that sells his Freedom, for the cramming of his Gut, has but a hard Bargain of it.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Wolf and the Housedog

A Wolf, meeting a big well-fed Mastiff with a wooden collar about his neck asked him who it was that fed him so well and yet compelled him to drag that heavy log about wherever he went. "The master," he replied. Then said the Wolf: "May no friend of mine ever be in such a plight; for the weight of this chain is enough to spoil the appetite."

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Dog and the Wolf

A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to meet a House-dog who was passing by. "Ah, Cousin," said the Dog. "I knew how it would be; your irregular life will soon be the ruin of you. Why do you not work steadily as I do, and get your food regularly given to you?"

"I would have no objection," said the Wolf, "if I could only get a place."

"I will easily arrange that for you," said the Dog; "come with me to my master and you shall share my work."

So the Wolf and the Dog went towards the town together. On the way there the Wolf noticed that the hair on a certain part of the Dog's neck was very much worn away, so he asked him how that had come about.

"Oh, it is nothing," said the Dog. "That is only the place where the collar is put on at night to keep me chained up; it chafes a bit, but one soon gets used to it."

"Is that all?" said the Wolf. "Then good-bye to you, Master Dog."

Better starve free than be a fat slave.