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


The Commoners of Rome were gone off once into a direct Faction against the Senate. They’d pay no Taxes, nor be forc’d to bear Arms, they said, and ‘twas the Liberty of the Subject to pretend to compel them to’t. The Sedition, in short, ran so high, that there was no Hope of reclaiming them, till Menenius Agrippa brought them to their Wits again by this Apologue. / The Hands and Feet were in desperate Mutiny once against the Belly. They knew no Reason, they said, why the one should lie lazing, and pampering itself with the Fruit of the others Labour; and if the Body would not work for company, they’d be no longer at the Charge of maintaining it. Upon this Mutiny, they kept the Body so long without Nourishment, that all the Parts suffer’d for it: Insomuch that the Hands and Feet came in the Conclusion to find their Mistake, and would have been willing them to have done their Office; but it was now too late, for the Body was so pin’d with over-Fasting, that it was wholly out of Condition to receive the Benefit of a Relief; which gave them to understand, that Body and members are to live and die together.
THE MORAL. The Publick is but one body, and the Prince the Head on’t; so that what Member soever withdraws his Service from the Head, is no better than a negative Traitor to his Country.

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.