Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)
51. THE BELLY AND MEMBERS (Perry 130)
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.