Aesop on Liberty

which is pretty much John Stuart Mill avant la lettre. Here it is in William Caxton’s wonderful edition.

No thing is so good as to live Justly and at Liberty. For freedom and liberty is better than any gold or silver; wherof Aesop rehearseth to us such a fable. There were frogs which were in ditches and ponds at their liberty. They all together of one assent and of one will made a request to Jupiter that he would give them a king. And Jupiter began therof to marvel, and for their king he casted to them a great piece of wood which made a great sound and noise in the water, wheron all the frogs had great dread and feared much. And after, they approached to their king for to make obeisance unto him. And when they perceived that it was but a piece of wood, they turned again to Jupiter, praying him sweetly that he would give to them another king. And Jupiter gave to them the Heron for to be their king. And then the Heron began to enter into the water and eat them one after another. And when the frogs saw that their king destroyed and ate them, then they began tenderly to weep, saying in this manner to the god Jupiter: Right high and right mighty god Jupiter, please thee to deliver us from the throat of this dragon and this tyrant, which eateth us the one after another. And he said to them: the king which ye have demanded shall be your master, for when men have that which men ought to have, they ought to be grateful and glad. And he that hath Liberty ought to keep it well. For nothing is better than Liberty. For Liberty should not be well sold for all the gold and silver of all the world.

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