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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

3.1. Of the lyon / & of the pastour or herdman
(Perry 563)

The myghty and puyssaunt oughte not to be slowfull of the benefetes done to them by the lytyl and smalle And oughte not also to forgete them / but that they may be rewarded of them / And this fable approueth esope & sheweth vnto vs / of a lyon whiche ranne after a beest / and as he ranne / a thorne entred in to his foote / whiche hurted and greued hym gretely / wherefore he myght no ferther goo / but as wel as he cowde he came to a shepherd whiche kepte his sheep and beganne to flatere with his taylle shewynge to hym hys foote / whiche was sore hurted and wounded / The sheepherd was in grete drede and casted before the lyon one of his sheep / But the lyon demaunded no mete of hym / For more he desyred to be medycyned and made hole of his foote / And after whanne the sheepherd sawe the wounde / he with a nydle subtylly drewe oute of his foote the thorne / and had oute of the wound alle the roten flesshe / and enoynted hit with swete oynements / And anone the lyon was hole / And for to haue rendryd graces and thankys to the sheepherd or pastour the lyon kyssed his handes / And after he retorned ageyn in to the hyest of the woode / And within a lytel whyle after it happed that this lyon was taken and conueyed to the Cyte of Rome and was put amonge the other beestes for to deuoure the mysdoers / Now it befelle that the sayd shepeherd commysed a crymynous dede / wherfore he was condempned to be deuoured by these bestes / And ryght soo as he was cast emong them the lyon knewe hym / and beganne to behold on hym / and made hym to chere. and lykked hym with his tongue / And preserued and kepte hym from alle the other bestes / Thenne knewe the sheepherd that it was the lyon whiche he maade hole / And that he wold thenne haue recompensed hym of good whiche he had done to hym / wherof alle the Romayns were all wonderly abasshed / And wold knowe the cause of hit And the sheepherd / sayd to them as aboue is sayd / And whanne they knewe the cause / the gaf leue to the sheepherd / to goo home / and sente ageyne the lyon in to the forest /
And therfore this is notary and trewe that al maner of folke ought to rendre and gyue thankynges grace and mercye to theyre good doers / For slowfulness is a synne / whiche is moche displaysaunt to god /

Caxton published his edition of Aesop's fables in 1484. There are modern reprints by Joseph Jacobs (D. Nutt: London, 1889) and more recently by Robert Lenaghan (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1967). Lenaghan's edition is available at amazon.com.