The Two Crabs

A child crab is berated by the parent crab for walking awkwardly. The child crab points out the parent should set the example.

Example is the best precept.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

One day two Crabs came out from their home to take a stroll on the sand. “Child,” said the mother, “you are walking very ungracefully. You should accustom yourself, to walking straight forward.” “Mother,” said the young one, “set the example yourself, and I will follow you.”

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children (The Young Crab and His Mother)

Crab and Mother

Milo Winter (1919)

“Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a Mother Crab to her son. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”

“Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently, “I want to learn.”

So the old Crab tried and tried to walk straight forward. But she could walk sideways only, like her son. And when she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.


Do not tell others how to act unless you can set a good example.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A crab said to her son, “Why do you walk so one-sided, my child? It is far more becoming to go straight forward.” The young Crab replied: “Quite true, dear Mother; and if you will show me the straight way, I will promise to walk in it.” The Mother tried in vain, and submitted without remonstrance to the reproof of her child.


Example is more powerful than precept.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

“My dear,” called out an old Crab to her daughter one day, “why do you sidle along in that awkward manner? Why don’t you go forward like other people?” “Well, mother,” answered the young Crab, “it seems to me that I go exactly like you do. Go first and show me how, and I will gladly follow.”

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual


Two Crabs

“So awkward, so shambling a gait!”
Mrs Crab did her daughter berate,
Who rejoined, “It is true
I am backward; but you
Needed lessons in walking quite late.”

Look at home.

1001Cancer et Filius Eius

Cancer dicebat filio, “Mi fili, ne sic obliquis semper gressibus incede, sed recta via perge.” Cui ille “Mi pater,” respondit, “libenter tuis praeceptis obsequar, si te prius idem facientem videro.”

Perry #322