The Old Hound

An Old Hound caught but could not hold a Boar (Stag). His Master berated him ignoring the fact that he was old and unable to hunt any longer.

The spirit is willing but the flesh weak.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Old HoundAn Old Hound, who had hunted well in his time, once seized a Stag , but from feebleness and the loss of his teeth was forced to let him go. The master coming up began to beat the Old Dog cruelly, but left off when the poor animal addressed him as follows: “Hold, dear master! You know well that neither my courage nor my will was at fault, but only my strength and my teeth, and these I have lost in
your service.”

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A hound, who in the days of his youth and strength had never yielded to any beast of the forest, encountered in his old age a boar in the chase. He seized him boldly by the ear, but could not retain his hold because of the decay of his teeth, so that the boar escaped. His master, quickly coming up, was very much disappointed, and fiercely abused the dog. The Hound looked up and said, “It was not my fault. master: my spirit was as good as ever, but I could not help my infirmities. I rather deserve to be praised for what I have been, than to be blamed for what I am.”

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Old HoundAN old Hound, who had been an excellent good one in his time, and given his master great sport and satisfaction in many a chase, at last, by the effect of years, became feeble and unserviceable. However, being in the field one day, when the Stag was almost run down, he happened to be the first that came in with him, and seized him by one of his haunches; but; his decayed and broken teeth not being able to keep their hold, the Deer escaped, and threw him quite out. Upon which, his master, being in a great passion, and going to strike him, the honest old creature is said to have barked out this apology: Ah! do not strike your poor old servant; it is not my heart and inclination, but my strength and speed that fail me. If what I now am displeases, pray don’t forget what I have been.


Whittingham - Old Hound

C. Whittingham (1814)

This fable may serve to give to us a general view of the ingratitude of the greatest part of mankind. Notwithstanding all the civility and complaisance that is used among people, where there is a common intercourse of business, yet, let the main spring, the probability of their being serviceable to each other, either in point of pleasure or profit, be but once broken, and farewell courtesy: so far from continuing any regard in behalf of past favours, it is very well if they forbear doing any thing that is injurious. If the master had only ceased to caress and make much of the old Hound when he was past doing any service, it had not been very strange; but to treat a poor creature ill, not for a failure of inclination, but merely a defect of nature, must, notwithstanding the crowd of examples there are to countenance it, be pronounced inhuman and unreasonable.

There are two accounts upon which people that have been useful are frequently neglected. One when they are so decayed, either through age or some accident,that they are no longer able to do the services they have formerly done; the other, when the occasion or emergency, which required such talents, no longer exists. Phaedrus, who more than once complains of the bad consequences of age, makes no other application to this fable, than by telling his friend Philetus, with some regret, that he wrote it with a view; having, it seems, been repaid with neglect, or worse usage, for services done in his youth, to those who were then able to afford him a better recompence.

1001Canis Vetulus et Magister

Canis venaticus, qui quondam velocitate ceteris praecelluit et magno erat olim usui et emolumento hero, iam longaevus et imbellis, fortuito cervum persequebatur et apprehensum, dentibus privatus, mox demisit. Quem iratus herus verbis et verberibus increpabat. Cui canis, “O dure et severe mihi magister, qui multifaria mea merita tam male pensitaveris!”

Perry #532