The Fox and The Goat

A Goat and Fox went into a deep well to drink. Neither could get out alone. The Goat was talked into helping the Fox who then left the Goat on his own.

Look before you leap.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

A Fox fell into a deep well from which he could not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what he was doing down there.

“Oh, have you not heard?” said the Fox; “there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order to be sure to have water by me. Why don’t you come down too?”

The Goat thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well.

The Fox immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well. “Good-bye, friend,” said the Fox, “if you had brains equal to the number of hairs in your beard you would not have jumped down without a way back up.”

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Fox and Goat

Milo Winter (1919)

A Fox fell into a well, and though it was not very deep, he found that he could not get out again. After he had been in the well a long time, a thirsty Goat came by. The Goat thought the Fox had gone down to drink, and so he asked if the water was good.

“The finest in the whole country,” said the crafty Fox, “jump in and try it. There is more than enough for both of us.”

The thirsty Goat immediately jumped in and began to drink. The Fox just as quickly jumped on the Goat’s back and leaped from the tip of the Goat’s horns out of the well.

The foolish Goat now saw what a plight he had got into, and begged the Fox to help him out. But the Fox was already on his way to the woods.

“If you had as much sense as you have beard, old fellow,” he said as he ran, “you would have been more cautious about finding a way to get out again before you jumped in.”


Look before you leap.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A fox one day fell into a deep well and could find no means of escape. A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and seeing the Fox, inquired if the water was good. Concealing his sad plight under a merry guise, the Fox indulged in a lavish praise of the water, saying it was excellent beyond measure, and encouraging him to descend. The Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, but just as he drank, the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in and suggested a scheme for their common escape. “If,” said he, “you will place your forefeet upon the wall and bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards.” The Goat readily assented and the Fox leaped upon his back. Steadying himself with the Goat’s horns, he safely reached the mouth of the well and made off as fast as he could. When the Goat upbraided him for breaking his promise, he turned around and cried out, “You foolish old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had no means of escape.”


Look before you leap.

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Fox and a GoatA Fox having tumbled, by chance, into a well, had been casting about a long while, to no purpose, how he should get out again; when, at last, a Goat came to the place, and wanting, to drink, asked Reynard, Whether the water was good! Good! says he; ay, so sweet, that I am afraid I have surfeited myself, I have drunk so abundantly. The Goat, upon this, without any more ado, leapt in; and the Fox, taking the advantage of his horns, by the assistance of them, as nimbly leapt out, leaving the poor Goat at the bottom of the well, to shift for himself.


Whittingham - Fox and Goat

C. Whittingham (1814)

The doctrine taught us by this fable is no more than this, that we ought to consider who it is that advises us, before we follow the advice. For, however plausible the counsel may seem, if the person that gives it is a crafty knave, we may be assured that he intends to serve himself in it, more than us, if not to erect something to his own advantage out of our ruin.

The little, poor, country attorney, ready to perish, and sunk to the lowest depth of poverty, for want of employment, by such arts as these, draws the ‘squire, his neighbour, into the gulph of the law; till, laying hold on the branches of his revenue, he lifts himself out of obscurity, and leaves the other immured in the bottom of a mortgage.


Taylor RhymesJefferys Taylor

Taylor - Fox and Goat 0117A FOX by chance, and not design,
Into a well did tumble;
So it fell out, that he fell in,
Which made poor Reynard grumble.

A goat that wish’d to quench his thirst;
Approach’d the well with haste;
But seeing the fox had got there first,
Ask’d how he liked the taste.

“How?” said the fox, “these waters are
Delicious, I assure ye;
So wholesome too, that if you were
Now dying, they would cure ye.”

Deceived by this vile fellow’s clack
The silly goat descended;
So Reynard jumping on his back,
Got out, as he intended.

When we take the advice of a rogue, who can tell
But ’twill end like the goat jumping into the well?

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Fox and a Goat once journeyed together. The Goat was a simple creature, seldom seeing beyond his own nose; while the Fox, like most of his kind, was a master of knavery. They were led by thirst to descend a deep well, and when they had both drunk freely, the Fox said, “Now, master Goat, what shall we do? Drinking is all very well, but it won’t get us out from here. You had better rear up against the wall; then, by the aid of your horns, I can get out, and, once out, of course I can help you.” “By my beard,” said the Goat, “that’s a good plan. I should never have thought of that. How I wish I had your brains, to be sure!” The Fox, having got out in the way described, began to rail at his companion. “Make the most of your patience, old fellow,” said he, “for you’ll need it all. If you had had half as much brains as beard, you would never have gone down there. I am sorry that I can’t stay longer with you, but I have some business that must be seen to. So, good-bye.”

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

A fox and a goat went down by consent into a well to drink, and when they had quench’d their thirst, the goat fell to hunting up and down which way to get back again. Oh! says Reynard, never trouble your head how to get back, but leave that to me. Do but you raise your self upon your hinder legs with your fore-feet close to the wall, and then stretch out your head: I can easily whip up to your horns, and so out of the well, and draw you after me. The goat puts himself in posture immediately as he was directed, gives the fox a lift, and so out he springs; but Reynard’s bus’ness was now only to make sport with his companion instead of helping him. Some hard words the goat gave him, but the fox puts off all with a jest. If you had but half so much brains as you have beard, says he, you would have bethought your self how to get up again before you went down.


A wise man will debate every thing pro and con before he comes to fix upon any resolution. He leaves nothing to chance more than needs must. There must be no bantering out of season.

1001Hircus et Vulpes in Puteo

Vulpes et hircus, sitientes, in quendam puteum, ut sitim extinguerent, descenderunt. Verum enim post potum, cum egressum circumspiceret hircus, vulpes ei comiter ait, “Bono sis animo! Nam quid saluti nostrae opus sit, probe animadverti. Si enim rectus stabis et pedibus anterioribus cornibusve muro adhaerebis, tuas ergo scapulas cornuaque conscendens exibo. Cumque egressa fuero, te manu comprehendens, hinc desuper traham.” Huic hircus prompte deservivit. Vulpes, suo exsultans egressu, circa os putei hirco alludebat. At dum hircus illam incusat sibi pacta haud servasse, ei facete vulpecula inquit, “Si ea, hirce, sapientia praeditus esses quo pilorum ornatu istaec tua barba referta est, non prius in puteum descendisses quam egressum pensiculate vidisses.”

Perry #009