The Man, The Boy, and The Donkey

A man tries to take the advice of many different people regarding his donkey and ends up with the worst of the deal.

Please all, and you will please none.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them: “Please all, and you will please none.”

JBR CollectionJBR Collection (The Old Man, His Son, and The Ass)

Old Man, Son, and AssAn Old Man and his little Boy were once driving an Ass before them to the next market-town, where it was to be sold. “Have you no more wit,” said a passer-by, “than for you and your Son to trudge on foot, and let your Ass go light?” So the Man put his Boy on the Ass, and they went on again. “You lazy young rascal!” said the next person they met; “are you not ashamed to ride, and let your poor old Father go on foot?” The Man lifted off the Boy, and got up himself. Two women passed soon after, and one said to the other, “Look at that selfish old fellow, riding on, while his little Son follows after on foot!” The Old Man thereupon took up the Boy behind him. The next traveller they met asked the Old Man whether or not the Ass was his own. Being answered that it was: “To one would think so,” said he, “from the way in which you usc it. Why, you are better able to carry the poor animal than he is to carry both of you.” So the Old Man tied the Ass’s legs to a long pole, and he and his Son shouldered the pole, and staggered along under the weight. In that fashion they entered the town, and their appearance caused so much laughter, that the Old Man, mad with vexation at the result of his endeavours to give satisfaction to everybody, threw the Ass into the river, and seizing his Son by the arm, went his way home again.

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual


Man Pleased None with Donkey

Through the town this good Man & his Son
Strove to ride as to please everyone;
Self, Son, or both tried,
Then the Ass had a ride;
While the world, at their efforts, poked fun.

You cannot hope to please all. Don’t try.