Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/Fable CXCI

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Fab. CXCI.

Asses to Jupiter.

THE Asses found themselves once so Intolerably Oppressed, with Cruel Masters, and Heavy Burdens, that they sent their Ambassadors to Jupiter with a Petition for Redress. Jupiter found the Request Unreasonable, and so gave them This Answer, That Humane Society could not be Preserv’d without Carrying Burdens some way or other: So that if the would but Joyn, and Piss up a River, that the Burdens which they now Carry’d by Land might be carried by Water, they should be Eas'd of That Grievance. This set them All a Pissing Immediately, and the Humeur is kept upto This very Day, that whenever One Ass Pisses, the Rest Piss for Company.


'Tis the Uttermost Degree of Madness and Folly, to Appeal from Providence and Nature.


THE Decrees and Appointments of Heaven are Unchangeable, and there’s no Contending. How many Popular Counter-parts of the Asses Petition to Jupiter for Redress of Grievances, have we liv'd to see within our own Memory, and all, for Things, not only Unreasonable, but utterly Impossible. We read however in the Answer, the Quality, and the Reproach of the Prayer, which is Granted upon Conditions as Impracticable, as the Thing desir'd is Ridiculous.

The Asses are here Comp'aining (after the Way of the Mobile) for being put to the very Use and Bus‘ness they were Made for; as if it were Cruelty and Oppression to Employ the Necessary Means, which God and Nature has given us, for the Attaining of Necessary Ends. If we Confound Higher and Lower, the World is a Chaos again, and a Level. Is not a Labourer as much a Tool of Providence as the Master-Builder? Are not the Meanest Artisans, of the same Institution with Ministers of Counsel and State: The Head can no more be without the Body, then the Body without the Head; and neither of them without Hands and Feet to Defend, and Provide, both for the One, and for the Other. Government can no more Subsist without Subjection, then the Multitude can Agree without Government: And the Duty of Obeying, is no less of Divine Appointment, then the Authority of Commanding.

Here's a Petition to Jupiter, in Truth, against Himself; and in the Moral, a Complaint to God against Providence; as if the Harmony of Nature, and or the World; The Order of Men, Things, and Bus’ness, were to be Embroil'd, Dissolv'd, or Alter’d, for the sake of so many Asses. What would become of the Universe if there were not Servants as well as Masters? Beasts to Draw, and Carry Burdens, as well as Burdens to be Drawn and Carry’d? If there were not Instruments for Drudgery, as well as Offices of Drudgery: If there were not People to Receive and Execute Orders, as well as others to Give and Authorize them? The Demand, in fine, is Unnatural, and Consequently both Weak and Wicked; And it is likewise as Vain, and Unreasonable, to Ask a Thing that is w holly Impossible. But 'tis the Petition of an Ass at last, which keeps up the Congruity of the Moral to the Fable.

The Ground of the Request, is the Fiction of a Complaint, by reason of Intolerable Burdens. Now we have Grievances to the Life, as well as in Fancy; and Asses in Flesh and Blood too, and in Practice, as well as in Emblem. We have Herds in Society, as well as in the Fields, and in the Forests; And we have English too, as well as Arcadian Grievances. What? (Cries the Multitude) are not our Bodies of the same Clay; and our Souls of the same Divine Inspiration with our Masters? Under These Amusements, the Common People put up so many Appeals to Heaven, from the Powers and Commands of their Lawful Superiors, under the Obloquy of Oppressors; and what Better Answer can be return’d to All their Clamorous Importunities, then This of Jupiter? Which most Emphatically sets forth the Necessity of Discharging the Asses Part; and the Vanity of Proposing to have it done any Other Way. As who should say, the Bus’ness of Humane Nature must be done. Lay your Heads together, and if you can find any way for the doing it, without one sort of People under Another, You shall have Your Asking. But for a Conclusion, He that’s born to Work, is out of his Place and Element when he is Idle.