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Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)


In the days of old, when the Frogs were all at liberty in the Lakes, and grown quite weary of living without Government, they petition’d Jupiter for a King, to the end that there might be some Distinction of good and Evil, by certain equitable Rules and Methods of Reward and Punishment. Jupiter, that knew the Vanity of their Hearts, threw them down a Log for their Governor; which upon the first Dash, frighted the whole Mobile of them into the Mud for the very fear on’t. This Panick Terror kept them in Awe for a while, till in good time one Frog, bolder than the rest, put up his Head, and look’d about him, to see how Squares went with their New King. Upon this, he calls his Fellow-Subjects together, opens the Truth of the Case, and nothing would serve them then, but riding a-top of him; insomuch that the Dread they were in before, is now turn’d into Insolence and Tumult. This King, they said, was too tame for them, and Jupiter must needs be entreated to send ‘em another: He did so; but Authors are divided upon it, whether ‘twas a Stork or a Serpent; though whether of the two soever it was, he left them neither Liberty nor Property, but made a Prey of his Subjects. Such was their Condition, in fine, that they sent Mercury to Jupiter yet once again for another King, whose Answer was this: They that will not be contented when they are well, must be patient when things are amiss with them; and People had better rest where they are, than go farther and fare worse.
THE MORAL The Mobile are uneasy without a Ruler: They are as restless with one; and oftner they shift, the worse they are: so that Government or no Government, a King of God’s making or of the Peoples, or none at all, the Multitude are never to be satisfied.

L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir Roger L'Estrange. Aesop - Fables which is available at amazon.com.